Different Animals

Consensus is orthogonal to truth.

In Science Consensus Is Irrelevant

I’ve been on the road today, with no time for writing. So for tonight we have for you an evergreen speech by the late Michael Crichton on how real science works.

Money quote:

In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

Also this:

Has everybody lost their minds?

Read the whole thing here.

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Flags, Speech, and Symbols

Not long ago I had a little rhubarb on Twitter with my old e-pal Kevin Kim on the subject of flag-burning. Kevin had quoted George Carlin’s remark that he preferred to leave symbols to the “symbol-minded”.

The meaning of Mr. Carlin’s remark, and of Kevin’s quoting it, is clear enough: that the flag is just a piece of cloth, a mere symbol, and to care overmuch about how people treat the flag is to, in Kevin’s words, “fetishize” it.

I thought that this was a surprisingly superficial way of looking at the matter, and needled Kevin by tweeting that I was starting to think he didn’t understand how symbols work. Kevin took this as an unforgivable insult, and so we are, apparently, no longer friends. That’s a shame, and seems awfully petulant for a man of his age, but there’s nothing more I can say about it.

There is, however, more I can say on the subject of flag-burning. The topic’s been in the air lately. Donald Trump’s been tweeting about enforcing “consequences” for it, and the New York Times responded with a prim article (perhaps “snotty” would be a better adjective) chiding him for his ignorance of the Constitution. (The Times is completely unable to conceal its contempt for, and visceral loathing of, Mr. Trump, but of course that shouldn’t surprise anyone; it is of a piece with the general superiority their social class feels toward the traditional American nation and those who would empower it, and it is why they lost this election. Nor should the Times be surprised to see itself increasingly marginalized, and even reviled, as the tectonic plates upon which they have built their Cathedral continue to shake and shift.)

If you skim off the bile from the Times’s editorial, the residuum of actual content is two sentences long:

Flag-burning is constitutionally protected speech. The Supreme Court has made this clear, in a ruling joined by Mr. Trump’s favorite justice, Antonin Scalia.

Well, OK, then. The Court having ruled, the question is, in purely legal terms, settled. (The case was Texas v. Johnson.)

One may still ask, though, whether the Court’s ruling was the right one, which is what Bill Vallicella did just the other day. He argues that the opinion should have gone the other way, on the grounds that flag-burning is too lacking in specific propositional content to qualify as “speech”.

We read:

[T]he editorial board of The New York Times betrays a failure to grasp the distinction between the U. S. Constitution and Supreme Court rulings about it. In the 1989 case “Texas v. Johnson,” SCOTUS handed down a 5-4 ruling according to which flag burning was a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Now if you read the amendment you will find no reference to flag burning. The subsumption of flag burning under protected speech required interpretation and argument and a vote among the justices. The 5-4 vote could easily have gone the other way, and arguably should have.

So Trump’s tweet, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag . . . ,” does not show a lack of understanding of the Constitution. After all, SCOTUS rulings can be overturned. On a charitable interpretation, Trump was advocating an overturning of the 1989 and 1990 flag burning rulings.

Ought flag burning come under the rubric of protected speech? Logically prior question: Is it speech at all? What if I make some such rude gesture in your face as ‘giving you the finger.’ Is that speech? If it is, I would like to know what proposition it expresses. ‘Fuck you!’ does not express a proposition. Likewise for the corresponding gesture with the middle finger. And if some punk burns a flag, I would like to know what proposition the punk is expressing.

The Founders were interested in protecting reasoned dissent, but the typical act of flag burning by the typical leftist punk does not rise to that level. To have reasoned or even unreasoned dissent there has to be some proposition that one is dissenting from and some counter-proposition that one is advancing, and one’s performance has to make more or less clear what those propositions are. I think one ought to be skeptical of arguments that try to subsume gestures and physical actions under speech.

Even if you disagree with Bill’s argument here — that flag-burning is not “speech” — there’s another angle of attack on the Court’s ruling that I think is worth mentioning, one that comes back to the nature of symbols, and to what flag-burning, properly understood, really means.

In Buddhism there’s a notion of “the finger pointing at the Moon”. It refers to an intellectual or epistemic trap, in which one mistakenly identifies a “pointer” — a word, a sign, a symbol, or even a charismatic teacher — for the thing pointed to. It is a defect in the normal function of symbols in human culture, which is to act as proxies for their referents. They can also be tremendously powerful proxies in that they “compress” an enormous amount of information about the thing they point to. All the power of an entire culture’s history and folklore, its mores and traditions, and its ancient claims upon its people’s love and honor, can be condensed and focused through a universally recognizable symbol. But the symbol itself is still, in a sense, transparent, like a lens.

When two people recognize such a symbol for what it is, and engage in a social transaction using the symbol as shorthand, the symbol itself — the word, or insignia, or flag, or song, or whatever it might be — being common on both sides of the equation, cancels out. And both sides understand this, quite naturally. It is what we humans do. So to dismiss flag-burning as nothing more than arson committed against a piece of cloth — as if it were equivalent to burning one of your socks — is either willfully disingenuous, or profoundly ignorant. But to dismiss it as silly “symbol-mindedness”, as George Carlin did with a lofty tone of superior detachment, is not a whole lot better, as it still misses (or sneers at) the real function of symbols in human societies, and in normal human minds.

Symbols are so universal, and their function and power so well-understood, that they can even be created on the fly. Walk up to some hulking biker in a park, mark off a little patch of ground, and say “this is your mother’s grave.” Then spit on it. Will he laugh and say “That’s silly, my mother is buried in Staten Island”? No — you will probably have a fight on your hands, and you will deserve it.

If even an ad hoc symbol can focus so much power, then clearly a venerable symbol like the American flag is a very powerful lens indeed — and when someone burns it, they know very well what they are doing, as do those who see them do it. To do so says, and says very clearly: “We both know that this flag is a proxy for what you hold most sacred, for what you feel honor-bound to defend, and for what your fathers died for. I am going to stand here before you and spit on all of it. What are you going to do about it?”

This is the propositional content that Bill was looking for. Flag-burning is not about the flag. It is not about the finger, it is about the moon. And because its propositional content is in fact quite clear, I think it is not wrong to regard it as a kind of speech.

But does that mean it is protected speech, under the First Amendment? My answer, which agrees with Bill’s but for different reasons, is no. Why? Because, given everything above, the burning of a flag is correctly understood as a deliberate and calculated provocation, a non-verbal act that still carries a very definite propositional content: an intentional defilement of that which the intended target holds sacred — not the flag (the finger), but the nation, history, traditions, folkways it symbolizes, and the honor and sacrifice of those who gave their lives to build and defend it (the moon). Both parties in this transaction understand this very well indeed: those who burn the flag do so precisely because they intend to taunt, defy, and enrage patriotic Americans who watch them do it.

So what kind of “speech”, then, is flag-burning? A very particular kind, I think, that the Supreme Court defined in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, in 1942: “fighting words”. And fighting words, by that ruling, are not protected speech under the First Amendment.

In the unanimous opinion, Justice Frank Murphy wrote:

It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.

Is flag-burning an “essential part of any exposition of ideas”? When some Occupy slacker defecates on Old Glory, is that an essential “step to truth”? Of course not. Given the unique potency of this symbol, its deliberate desecration is distilled provocation — and if you want to make the case that the license to make this incendiary gesture is “outweighed by the social interest in order and morality”, you have my blessing.

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Cabinet-Building

I’m happy to to see that Donald Trump has named James Mattis as his choice for Secretary of Defense. (Just think: a warrior who understands what the miltary is and isn’t for. Amazing.) As a recently retired member of the armed forces, he will, according to the National Security Act of 1947, need a waiver from Congress to serve:

SEC. 202. (a) There shall be a Secretary of Defense, who shall be appointed from civilian life by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate : Provided, That a person who has
within ten years been on active duty as a commissioned officer in a Regular component of the armed services shall not be eligible for appointment as Secretary of Defense.

That ten years was later reduced to seven, but he’ll still need a waiver. I hope he gets it. Marshall did.

Meanwhile the big unknown is still Secretary of State. That’s a hard one. John Bolton’s name is on the list, but he’s way too much of a neocon for me. With him I’d have the same worries I had about Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy: hawkishness in general, confrontation with Russia, and futile wars all over the world.

What would I like in a Secretary of State? Mr. Trump hasn’t called yet to ask, but should his staff happen to see this, I’d like someone who:

1) Exhibits the social grace and other civilized qualities of the natural aristoi, as one thinks of when imagining a great nation’s top diplomat;

2) Puts America’s interests above global utopianism;

3) Has a broad, preferably even scholarly, knowledge and understanding of history;

4) Strongly favors the Anglosphere as our organic allies;

5) Understands also that Russia has a far deeper kinship with the West than with any other conceivable bloc of nations, and would be far better as an ally against Islam and China than a foe;

6) Has a clear-eyed understanding of the devastating effect of mass alien immigration on any nation, and is therefore sympathetic to the desire for cultural self-preservation that is awakening all over the West;

7) Doesn’t go blundering around wrecking nations in the hope of perfecting the world;

8) Doesn’t have the neocon bee-in-the-bonnet about democracy as the one-size-fits-all solution to every nation’s problems, and understands that different peoples naturally form different cultures and types of sovereignty. Russia, for example, has never had any sort of real democracy, and doesn’t want or need one — and to make Putin an enemy simply because he is authoritarian (as many mainstream conservative types do) betrays, I think, a naive universalism that works against our better interests.

I’m not particularly optimistic about this appointment; that’s a pretty tough resume to fill. (In a pinch, point 2 would be an improvement all by itself.) We’ll see what happens.

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King Of The Hill

Magnus Carlsen wrapped up his World Championship title defense against Sergey Karjakin today in a series of four rapid-play tiebreakers. It was a fantastic finish that featured some brilliant, beautiful chess.

Each player had 25 minutes for the whole game, with a 10-second increment added for every move.

The first game (you can play through it here) was a Ruy Lopez, with Karjakin playing Black. A draw.

Next came a Giuoco Piano, with Carlsen playing White. In a bloody exchange starting at move 23 Carlsen exchanged a rook and a pawn for two of Karjakin’s pieces. Carlsen pressed ferociously, but apparently missed at least one winning opportunity, and with a tremendous defensive effort by Karjakin the game ended in a stalemate. (Not often you see one of those in a championship match.)

The third game was another Lopez, with Carlsen playing Black. In this game he showed, for perhaps the first time in the whole match, real dominance. He slowly crushed Karjakin, who ended the game in terrible time-pressure. To do so with Black was even more impressive. It was a devastating blow.

Now Karjakin needed a win in the fourth game just to pull even and make it to the next tie-break round. It was a desperate situation for Karjakin, and the champion knew he was now in a commanding position. But Carlsen didn’t just play for the draw, which would have been enough to retain his title. He went for the win, and got it — with a gorgeous sacrificial mating combination at move 50. It was a stunningly beautiful way to end the match, and the spectators roared when he delivered the fatal blow. This game will not soon be forgotten, I think.

What a treat! But don’t take my word for it, readers: have a look for yourselves.

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Poe’s Law

We were treated to some grandmaster-level trolling at the Guardian yesterday, by one Godfrey Elfwick. Here.

Their Lyin’ Eyes

All over the Western world, ethno-nationalist sentiment is ascendant. In France, Marine Le Pen has a very good chance of taking the presidency in the next election. (Even if she doesn’t, the likely winner will be the conservative Catholic François Fillon, who is himself an immigration restrictionist.) In Austria, where my daughter lives, a presidential election this weekend may install the Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer, another man of the Right. In Holland, it looks like Geert Wilders, despite being on trial for “hate speech”, is in the strongest position to be the next Prime Minister. The persecution of Mr. Wilders has, apparently, backfired: it has aroused in the common people of the E.U. an ardor to resist the increasingly totalitarian control of language that has been, all over Europe and in Canada as well, the only way to clamp down on noticing, and speaking about, obvious things — and one obvious thing in particular.

What is that Obvious Thing? Simply this:

Allowing mass Muslim immigration is the stupidest and most irreversibly self-destructive thing that any Western nation can do.

The evidence of this is now completely overwhelming, everywhere in Europe. I have a friend, for example, who is a distinguished scholar of European politics. He has taught at the Sorbonne, the top Ivies, and elsewhere, and is a fellow at several major European think-tanks. From his resume, and his positions as both a member par excellence of Europe’s intellectual elite and an influential voice in the shaping of public policy, you would assume that he is “all in” for accelerating multiculturalism in the E.U. — but he has, in private conversations, agreed with my formulation of the Obvious Thing.

If even a member of this global Brahmin clerisy — who live, everywhere, in well-secured isolation from the practical consequences of public policy — is willing to confess such apostasy, then something is cracking. You can be sure that for hundreds of millions of the ordinary people of Europe, the Obvious Thing has now assumed the self-evident certainty of natural law, and that they are adjusting their sense of social, political, and familial obligation accordingly. The old postwar intellectual order, so plump and comfortable until so recently, has now gone bankrupt, in just the way Hemingway described: “Gradually, then suddenly.”

In America today we had another public demonstration of the Obvious Thing: a mass attack by a Somali Muslim at The Ohio State University. The perpetrator was one Abdul Razak Ali Artan, now deceased.

Why, you may ask, would this young man run his car into a crowd, and then stab people with a butcher’s knife until he was shot dead? It’s a poser, I admit — and NBC News informs us that “officials” have not yet “determined a motive”. (What a relief it is not to have to rely on “fake news”!)

Helpfully, however, Mr. Artan gave us the answer himself, shortly pre-mortem: having reached a “boiling point”, he wished us all to know that the Ummah was “not weak”.

Duly noted, Abdul — and increasingly so, I’m glad to say, both here and abroad. I do believe that noticing is now back in fashion, and not a moment too soon.

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Black Friday

A scene from earlier today:

 
This is what happens when all connections to anything beyond atomistic individualism, and mere presentist materiality, are severed. This is what it looks like when all of the horizontal ligatures, organic hierarchy, and embedding in past and future time that give a culture health, harmony and order are deliberately and patiently destroyed.

Expect more and more of this as civilized norms perish. Soon we’ll be calling it Red Friday.

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Reverse Engineering

Here’s a treat for you music fans, and especially my old friends and colleagues in the recording biz: producer Tony Visconti in his studio doing a track-by track breakdown and analysis of what I’ve always considered David Bowie’s best song ever: his 1977 classic Heroes.

Many thanks to my old friend (and former bandmate) Joe Abelson for sending me this.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

…to all of you.

Given recent events, I’m sure it will be a contentious gathering in millions of homes across the country. That’s a shame, because we ought, if we really want, to be able to put social and political externalities aside for one day.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday, and a necessary idea. All it needs to make it work is for us to spend a few hours, together with those we love the most, being grateful for the things we have, instead of sullen about the things we don’t. The effect, if we can achieve it, is good, and lasting. But to achieve it requires, sometimes, a measure of inner discipline, and an inkling of the transcendent — both of which are in increasingly short supply these days.

Good luck and good wishes to you! I think we all have much to be thankful for. I know I do, and as always I thank you, readers, for visiting and commenting.

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It’s On

Chess fans: there’s a world-championship match underway, here in New York, between the current king of the hill, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, and the Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin. It’s a 12-game match, and it was all draws until yesterday’s Game 8, in which Mr. Karjakin achieved a dramatic win. Game 9 is now underway — a scrappy Ruy Lopez, with Carlsen playing Black.

For a paltry $15, you can buy a ticket for online coverage — cameras, live game boards, and analysis, here.

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On The Nature Of Things

I’ve been reading Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences. Written in 1948, it is a profoundly reactionary book, a revolt against the modern world. And when I say “modern”, I mean something more than you might imagine: Mr Weaver traces the cracking open of the abyss all the way back to William of Ockham and the birth of nominalism — the idea that there is nothing more to the things in this world than the things themselves. In this, Weaver argues, our culture began a move from the transcendent to the particular; from the purpose of labor to the fruits of labor; from the eternal to the merely present; from a lofty hierarchy of order, with its apex in Heaven, to undifferentiated rubble on a darkling plain.

I’ve highlighted many passages. Here are some (I’ve bolded some that seem to me particularly relevant today):

— The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses.

— His decline can be represented as a long series of abdications. He has found less and less ground for authority at the same time he thought he was setting himself up as the center of authority in the universe; indeed, there seems to exist here a dialectic process which takes away his power in proportion as he demonstrates that his independence entitles him to power.

— The unexpressed assumption of empiricism is that experience will tell us what we are experiencing.

— Civilization has been an intermittent phenomenon; to this truth we have allowed ourselves to be blinded by the insolence of material success.

The most portentous general event of our time is the steady obliteration of those distinctions which create society.

— If society is something which can be understood, it must have structure; if it has structure, it must have hierarchy…

— [T]he goal of social democracy is scientific feeding. If one dares to visualize the millennium of the social democrats, he is forced to picture a “healthy-minded,” naturally good man, provided for by a paternalistic state and seeking to save himself from extinction by boredom through dabbling in some art.

— [E]qualitarianism is harmful because it always presents itself as a redress of injustice, whereas in truth it is the very opposite.

Since liberalism became a kind of official party line, we have been enjoined against saying things about races, religions, or national groups, for, after all, there is no categorical statement without its implication of value, and values begin divisions among men. We must not define, subsume, or judge; we must rather rest on the periphery and display “sensibility toward the cultural expression of all lands and peoples.” This is a process of emasculation.

— The very possibility that there may exist timeless truths is a reproach to the life of laxness and indifference which modern egotism encourages.

— Here begins modern labor’s history; in conflict with an exploiting and irresponsible bourgeoisie, it found no alternative but to avail itself of the bourgeois philosophy and strike back. Accordingly, workers’ organizations accepted in their practice the idea that labor is a commodity when they began the capitalist technique of restricting production in the interest of price… Labor which is bought and sold by anonymous traders cannot feel a consecration to task. Its interest becomes that of commercialism generally: how much can be had for how little? … The bourgeoisie first betrayed society through capitalism and finance, and now labor betrays it by embracing a scheme of things which sees profit only, not duty and honor, in work.

— That curious modern hypostatization “service” is often called in to substitute for the now incomprehensible doctrine of vocation. It tries to secure subordination by hypothezising something larger than self, which turns out, however, to be only a multitude of selfish selves.

An ancient axiom of politics teaches that a spoiled people invite despotic control. Their failure to maintain internal discipline is followed by some rationalized organization in the service of a single powerful will. In this particular, at least, history, with all her volumes vast, has but one page.

— [T]he metaphysicians of publicity have absorbed the idea that the goal of life is happiness through comfort. It is a state of complacency supposed to ensue when the physical appetites have been well satisfied. Advertising fosters the concept, social democracy approves it, and the acceptance is so wide that it is virtually impossible today, except from the religious rostrum, to teach that life means discipline and sacrifice.

In summary, the plea that the press, motion picture, and radio justify themselves by keeping people well informed turns out to be misleading. If one thinks merely of facts and of vivid sensations, the claim has some foundation, but if he thinks of encouragement to meditation, the contrary rather is true. For by keeping the time element continuously present—and one may recall Henry James’s description of journalism as criticism of the moment at the moment—they discourage composition and so promote the fragmentation already reviewed. We have seen in other connections how specialization is hostile to all kinds of organization, whether that organization is expressed as image, as whole, or as generalization. In the last analysis this reveals itself as an attempt to prevent the simultaneous perception of successive events, which is the achievement of the philosopher. Materialism and success require the “decomposed eternity” of time for their operation, and this is why we have these hidden but persistent attacks on memory, which holds successive events in a single picture. The successive perception of successive events is empiricism; the simultaneous perception is idealism. Need we go further to account for the current dislike of long memories and for the hatred of the past?

— The man of culture finds the whole past relevant; the bourgeois and the barbarian find relevant only what has some pressing connection with their appetites.

Having been taught for four centuries, more or less, that his redemption lies through the conquest of nature, man expects his heaven to be spatial and temporal, and, beholding all things through the Great Stereopticon, he expects redemption to be easy of attainment. Only by these facts can we explain the spoiled-child psychology of the urban masses. The scientists have given him the impression that there is nothing he cannot know, and false propagandists have told him that there is nothing he cannot have. Since the prime object of the latter is to appease, he has received concessions at enough points to think that he may obtain what he wishes through complaints and demands. This is but another phase of the rule of desire. The spoiled child has not been made to see the relationship between effort and reward. He wants things, but he regards payment as an imposition or as an expression of malice by those who withhold for it. His solution, as we shall see, is to abuse those who do not gratify him.

— After man has left the countryside to shut himself up in vast piles of stone, after he has lost what Sir Thomas Browne called pudor rusticus, after he has come to depend on a complicated system of human exchange for his survival, he becomes forgetful of the overriding mystery of creation. Such is the normal condition of the déraciné. An artificial environment causes him to lose sight of the great system not subject to man’s control.

— After a people have repudiated ideals, they respond to the prick of appetite as an animal to a goad, but this, for reasons already outlined, does not take the place of systematic labor toward a suprapersonal goal. In becoming pragmatic, they become ineffectual. De Tocqueville, alert to discern the effects of different social ideals, noted this well: “In ages of faith, the final end of life is placed beyond life. The men of those ages, therefore, naturally and almost involuntarily accustom themselves to fix their gaze for many years on some immovable object toward which they are constantly tending; and they learn by insensible degrees to repress a multitude of petty passing desires in order to be the better able to content that great and lasting desire which possesses them. . . . This explains why religious nations have often achieved such lasting results; for whilst they were thinking only of the other world, they had found out the great secret of success in this.”

— Nothing is more certain than that whatever has to court public favor for its support will sooner or later be prostituted to utilitarian ends.

This is all just a sampling. There is much, much more on Weaver’s table, and it is rich stuff, not to be wolfed down. (Indeed, the idea that the West really began to go off the rails as far back as the beginning of the fourteenth century may be, for some, completely indigestible.) The book is a potent reactionary manifesto, and, especially given my own flirtations with nominalism, it has given me a lot to think about. I should have read it years ago.

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Recess

Sorry for the lack of substantial content here recently. I’ve felt it possible to have a bit of a breather after the election, and apparently the Muse has felt the same. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been much worth commenting about — the Left is writhing like a wounded serpent, but it is still as dangerous as ever. “Fake News”, the purging of social media, the Trumped-up calumnies against Steven Bannon, the desperate rush to distance themselves from the identitarian monster they created but can no longer control, the candidacy of Keith Ellison for the DNC chair, the administration’s cataract of last-minute regulations, the Calexit movement (which our resident gadfly the One Eyed Man enthusiastically supports), the accelerating disintegration of the last vestiges of cultural and political unity in America, amid what may indeed turn out to be a reversal of truly stupendous proportions — these are all worthy topics. But not tonight.

I do have this, though: our friend Bill Vallicella has posted an essay — a reflection on the recent election — over at the philosopher’s website Rightly Considered As you should expect, it is lucid, and good. Sections D and E — on moral imperatives and tribalism, respectively — are the most interesting bits, I think. In particular, section E shows me that Bill, despite his protestations to the contrary, is an “Alt-Right”-er in all but name; he withholds assent rather specifically because he defines the movement as anti-Semitic. Perhaps this is unnecessarily strict — every movement has its fringes, after all — but in any case Bill, despite wiggling around a bit, seems to accede to the more general Alt-Right position that human biodiversity is real, and that as far as the fate of the West is concerned, matters.

(I should say also that there is an important difference between malevolent, tribalist anti-Semitism and merely acknowledging the vastly disproportionate affinity of Jews, from Marx to Alinsky to Bernie Sanders, for Leftist, multiculturalist, and antinationalist ideology. There are rational, perhaps even compelling, historical and cultural reasons for this persistent affinity — but I’ll save that for another time.)

Having said all that, I’ll make clear that I don’t give a hoot about the “Alt-Right” label. I’m an anti-anti-Semite myself, and if we need a name for an Alt-Right minus virulent anti-Semitism, I’m perfectly happy to go with “Dissident Right”, “New Right”, or “Undaunted Knights of the Emerald Escutcheon” — whatever gets the job done. I understand that branding is important, but it’s ideas that matter, not names.

Read Bill’s essay here.

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The Umbrella Man

Today’s offering, courtesy of War on the Rocks: an essay on the study of history, from MIT’s Francis J. Gavin. Here.

Cue Debussy

In the Daniel Greenfield essay we linked to in our previous post, Mr. Greenfield wrote:

Like the ordinary men chipping away at the Berlin Wall, they tore down an unnatural thing that had towered over them. And as they watched it fall, they marveled at how weak and fragile it had always been. And how much stronger they were than they had ever known.

At his blog Outside In, Nick Land makes a similar point:

Perhaps NRx was from the beginning part of the Cathedral funeral process.

Some serious adjustment is called for. An enemy that can suffer a defeat this stupendous clearly isn’t a radically intimidating adversary. We can already see beyond it. The conflict has moved on.

My current (uncertain) take: The regime analyzed by classical NRx has descended into a deeply morbid state. Things will get worse for it, perhaps catastrophically, more quickly than we yet imagine, in a cascade of collapse. All the trends that count against it are still strengthening, in many case exponentially. It would be an analytical error to remain fixated upon its corpse.

Demotism is, of course, undefeated (perhaps even temporarily reinforced). The Cathedral, however, appears mortally wounded. This year was — quite plausibly — its 1989.

ADDED: To be a little clearer, it isn’t really 1989, it’s 1517. The quasi-universal authority of a church died (as a result of techonomic media innovation, among other factors).

Read also an earlier Outside In post, linked to from the post above, that says:

Extreme corrosive pessimism is an NRx specialty. Since optimism bias is a status quo-supported human cognitive frailty, it’s a good thing to have. If rigidified, however, it can result in missing things.

One systematic distortion stems from hubris, taking the form of a confusion in causality. “We don’t like X, and want bad things to happen to it” can actually be a distorted expression of a more basic process: X is dying, and therefore we have started to dislike it

This blog strongly suspects that the Cathedral has become an object of animosity as a consequence of its morbidity. After all, it’s a mind-control apparatus. If it’s no longer universally accepted, and in certain problematic patches actively loathed, dysfunction is clearly indicated. Contestation of its story is not supposed to be part of the story…

Every critical component of the Cathedral — media, academic, and bureaucratic — is exceptionally vulnerable to Internet-driven disintermediation…

A step down from hubris might begin with an acknowledgment that NRx is — primarily — a symptom. Whatever imagined heroism is sacrificed thereby, it is more than compensated by an opportunity for deepened realism.

“NRx is — primarily — a symptom”. Indeed it is. But so is all reaction, no?

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This

With a hat-tip to our friend Bill Keezer, we give you a rousing essay by Daniel Greenfield on what has just happened in America. It begins:

This wasn’t an election. It was a revolution.

It’s midnight in America. The day before fifty million Americans got up and stood in front of the great iron wheel that had been grinding them down. They stood there even though the media told them it was useless. They took their stand even while all the chattering classes laughed and taunted them.

They were fathers who couldn’t feed their families anymore. They were mothers who couldn’t afford health care. They were workers whose jobs had been sold off to foreign countries. They were sons who didn’t see a future for themselves. They were daughters afraid of being murdered by the “unaccompanied minors” flooding into their towns. They took a deep breath and they stood.

They held up their hands and the great iron wheel stopped.

Read the whole thing, then read it again. Here.

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Tilting At Windmills

I (and many others) have written often about the obvious religiosity of Progressivism, and about its being, quite plainly and transparently, a secular continuation and direct descendant of the Puritan “mission into the wilderness”. A particularly instructive aspect of this atheistic quest for holiness and salvation is the patently crypto-religious “climate-change” crusade. Early last year, after a conversation with a liberal friend on the topic, I had this to say:

I was struck once again by the clarity with which global-warmism reveals itself as a secular repurposing of the religious impulse — a deep and universal human yearning that, in the corroded cultural aftermath of the Enlightenment’s skeptical acid-bath, has lost a transcendent God as its referent, and now wants very badly something else to plug into.

The mythos, from Genesis to Redemption, has been transplanted almost entirely without alteration:

In the beginning, there was only God.

From God arose Man.

Before his Fall, Man lived simply, and in perfect harmony with God. It was a Paradise on Earth.

Then a disaster happened. Man acquired a new kind of Knowledge: knowledge that he did not need, but that conferred upon him enormous temptation. In his unwisdom, and against God’s wishes, Man succumbed. His new Knowledge gave him great power, but at a terrible cost: he had turned his back on God, and his Paradise was lost. In his exile, he would wield his ill-gained power in prideful suffering and woe.

But then came a Messenger, offering the possibility of Redemption: if Man were to renounce his awful Knowledge, and learn once again to surrender himself to the love of God, he would be forgiven, and could find his way back to Paradise. It would not be easy — it would require that he make terrible sacrifices, atone for his many sins, and give up his worldly comforts and much that he had come to love — but if his faith was strong, his Salvation could become a reality, and he could once again live in Paradise, in sweet communion with God.

In order to move from the old religion to the new one, we need only substitute “Nature” for “God” in the passages above. That the two conceptions are almost perfectly isomorphic, and that both are manifestations of the same underlying impulse, should be plainly evident. But perhaps one must be a heretic oneself to notice it.

A hallmark of religious crusades, and of mass movements, is an indifference to unintended consequences. For the True Believer, when the end is holy enough, it justifies any means. For an excellent and illuminating example, of this, read this account of the E.U.’s missionary work on the lonely Atlantic island of El Hierro. It has it all. It is also a fine example of why centralization of vast federations under remote and indifferent bureaucracies, whose functionaries are entirely insulated from the consequences of their decisions, is such a very, very bad form of government.

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Not To Worry

My liberal Jewish friends are on the fainting couch after the Trump victory. One said to my wife that as a Jew he now felt very afraid of what might be coming.

I think they should relax. Here’s the economist David P. Goldman, whom you may know as the pseudonymous Asia Times columnist “Spengler”, and the author of How Civilizations Die, writing at PJ Media:

Trump’s election is the best thing that has happened to Israel in many years. It eliminates the risk of a diplomatic stab in the back at the Security Council and sends a dire warning to Iran, the only real existential threat to the Jewish State. The security of the Jewish people in their homeland is vastly enhanced by the vote on November 8, and Jews everywhere should thank God that the head of state of the world’s most powerful country is a friend of Israel with Jewish grandchildren. Instead of slanders, Jews should offer up prayers of Thanksgiving.

(I’d ask my friends also to reflect on multiple eyewitnesses having heard Hillary Clinton calling Paul Fray, a campaign aide, a “fucking Jew bastard”, and ask them what, exactly, Donald Trump has ever said about their people that makes them so worried.)

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Socratic Method – NOT

My old e-pal Kevin Kim and I have just had an unpleasant falling-out, the result of what I thought was a spirited, but not unfriendly, back-and-forth on Twitter last night about flag-burning, the power of symbols, and the persistent truths of human nature. The topic is an interesting and important one, and one that is right in Kevin’s academic wheelhouse; after our exchange I had looked forward to exploring it with him in a more accommodating format than Twitter, which is where serious discussions (and, apparently, long and happy friendships) go to die.

I’ll take the opportunity here to apologize for offending Kevin with what I do admit was my didactic (of which I am too often guilty) and occasionally needling Twitter-style tone; I meant no offense, and certainly never imagined that I would alienate him so. Kevin is an intelligent and thoughtful blogger. He was also one of my first friends in the blogging world, and I have valued his comradeship ever since we first got to know each other at least a decade ago. I hope we can mend fences.

I’m not going to get into the topic itself right now; I’ll leave that for another time.

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A Republic, If You Can Keep It

Following the Trump victory in last week’s election, many on the losing side have been calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. To do this would be to remove yet another Constitutional bulwark against raw democracy, which the Framers rightly saw as a buttered slide to tyranny (beginning with the tyranny of the majority). The Electoral College is all that gives the smaller states a voice at all in the selection of Presidents, and if it is abolished those states with large minority, urban, and elite populations — the ones that reliably go blue on Election Day — will effectively control the Executive branch forever (or at least until the dissolution of the Republic itself, which would likely follow shortly thereafter). Indeed, there would simply have been no United States at all under direct election of the President, as a Constitution that gave the big states such a commanding advantage would never have been ratified in the first place.

If you’ve been thinking about this over the past few days, you may have taken comfort in the fact that to abolish the Electoral College requires a Constitutional amendment, which in turn requires the approval of three-fourths of the state legislatures. Given the quite remarkable extent to which state voters have rejected the Democrats in recent years (only 26% of state legislatures are currently controlled by Democrats, and there are only four states — California, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Hawaii — in which both the governor and legislative majority are both Democrats), a Constitutional amendment is extremely unlikely.

You may not, however, be aware of a clever attempt to circumvent the Constitution, being sponsored by an organization called NPV, or National Popular Vote, whose plan is to put in place a contract by which signatory states can agree to bind their electors to the winner of the popular vote. The idea is that it takes effect when states totaling 270 electoral votes have signed on. It has already been signed into law in 11 states, with a total of 165 electoral votes. Even if it achieves its aim, I can imagine that it might not survive a challenge in the courts, as its effect is explicitly to nullify the electoral procedure prescribed in the Constitution. It is, nevertheless, something we all ought to keep an eye on.

Here’s a video explaining the plan:

The United States, a huge and diverse nation, is not, and was never intended, to be a democracy. It is an association of states. The voice given to the smaller and redder states by the Electoral College is an essential feature of a workable Union.

The 11 states (well, 10 plus D.C.) that have signed on so far are:

California
District of Columbia
Hawaii
Illinois
Massachusetts
Maryland
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
Vermont
Washington

Notice anything they have in common? This is, simply put, an attempt by the blue states to take over the Executive Branch (although, it should be said, it can only succeed if some swing states sign on; it is already only the large blocs of Democrat voters in these blue states that have tipped the popular vote against the Electoral result in recent years). Direct popular control of the Executive is precisely what the Framers sought to prevent, as they knew it would be the death of the Republic. We must do what we can to see that it fails.

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To-Do List

From Patrick Buchanan yesterday: a call to action in the wake of victory. Here.

This “magnanimity” business is certainly attracting a lot of attention. (More on that later.) Meanwhile, see the discussion at the Maverick Philosopher, here.

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Ignoracracy

It’s awfully (though darkly) amusing to hear, in the wake of Mr. Trump’s election, all the cries from the streets denouncing his supporters as ‘Fascists’. The word, of course, has nearly been drained of all meaning, and like ‘racist’, is now little more than a cudgel for the faithful to use against anyone from whom they catch a whiff of heresy.

 
So why is this amusing? Because of the slogan chosen by their own champion, Mrs. Clinton, who chose to run her own campaign under the rallying cry “Stronger Together” — which, as anyone with a rudimentary familiarity with political history* will know, is precisely the essence of the Fascist idea, and of the ancient symbol, the fasces, that gave the movement its name and emblem.

Next time someone gets in your face to tell you that Trump supporters are Fascists, please remind them of this. And to learn more about what the word really means, please get yourself a copy of Paul Gottfried’s Fascism: The Career of a Concept.

 
* i.e., almost nobody.

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Kumbaya

I’m trying to hang on to that “magnanimous” feeling tonight.

It’s not going so well.

The Popular Vote Means Nothing

Hillary Clinton supporters: let’s not hear a lot of whingeing, please, about how your gal “won the popular vote”. Leaving aside the most obvious response — that in this federal republic it is, by careful design, the States that elect the President, and not the mob — your argument depends upon the assumption of an unprovable counterfactual, namely the implicit assertion that she would have won the popular vote even if there were no Electoral College. This article explains why the notion is irrelevant.

Speaking of the mob, they are now having a tantrum, massing themselves in various urban centers (and blocking highways) to protest — what, exactly? What are their demands?

Perhaps soon it will be more relevant to ask: how many divisions do they have?

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Will Justice Be Served?

With the election of Donald Trump, many of us (count me in!) are hoping that the Clintons will at last be held to account for their criminality. One thing stands in the way: the power of the President to grant pardons.

“But wait,” I hear you saying, “can President Obama pardon the Clintons in advance for crimes they haven’t even been charged with yet?”

Yes, unfortunately, he can. In 1866, in Ex Parte Garland, the Supreme Court had this to say (my emphasis):

The Constitution provides that the President “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

The power thus conferred is unlimited, with the exception stated. It extends to every offence known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken or during their pendency or after conviction and judgment. This power of the President is not subject to legislative control. Congress can neither limit the effect of his pardon nor exclude from its exercise any class of offenders. The benign prerogative of mercy reposed in him cannot be fettered by any legislative restrictions.

Such being the case, the inquiry arises as to the effect and operation of a pardon, and on this point all the authorities concur. A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offence and the guilt of the offender, and when the pardon is full, it releases the punishment and blots out of existence the guilt, so that, in the eye of the law, the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offence. If granted before conviction, it prevents any of the penalties and disabilities consequent upon conviction from attaching; if granted after conviction, it removes the penalties and disabilities and restores him to all his civil rights; it makes him, as it were, a new man, and gives him a new credit and capacity.

Will Mr. Obama pardon the Clintons? We should not be surprised if he does. What, after all, does he have to lose? Yes, there would be terrible wrath on the part of millions of Americans who value the rule of law. But that was never an obstacle to this President, even while he still had to seek re-election.. Why should it restrain him now?

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The Morning After

Well! Here we stand, on the morrow of our victory. In this glorious dawn, let us survey the battlefield.

The Clintons are finished, done. Their political careers are over, and the parasitic criminal syndicates they run, which draw their life’s-blood by selling access to power, have been expelled by the host. Each of them has good reason to be worried today, as a newly constituted Department of Justice — a department that may now, refreshingly, concern itself with justice, and with the enforcement of the nation’s laws — will no longer serve as their Praetorian guard.

The GOP, for what they’re worth, have held the House and the Senate, have gained three governorships, and have increased their numbers in state legislatures and local administrations. In the Senate, Chuck Schumer will not be the Majority Leader.

The predicted collapse of the stock market — futures were down hundreds of points late last night, as the Clintons’ doom became apparent — did not happen. As I write, the DJIA is up over sixty points, and heading rapidly north.

In short: the enemy is driven before us. For a morning, for a day, let us listen to the music of their lamentations. Drink deeply of their sweet tears.

Then to work. We have retaken the citadel, but it is burnt and broken.

As Churchill wrote:

In War: Resolution,
In Defeat: Defiance,
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will.

We have been resolute, and we have been defiant. Now let us be magnanimous. But I will add: let us be stern, and let us be vigilant. Let us defend the country we have retaken, and know that our Hydra-headed enemy still lives, is swollen with hatred, and never sleeps.

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Well, Whaddya Know

Donald Trump has won the election. This means that Hillary Clinton will never be President. She will be lucky to stay out of prison.

We did it.

The Underdog

If you haven’t seen this clip, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Sobornost

I have noted often in these pages that in the absence of a natural and organic social framework, order must be imposed artificially from the “top down”. Here, for example, is an excerpt from a 2014 post, The Death of Culture:

To create the new metaculture, muticulturalism cannot not add cultures together, due to the points of contradiction and conflict that are, in turn, manifestations of the innate differences of the peoples whose cultures they are. Instead, it can only proceed subtractively, by stripping away particularities, until it finds commonality at some baser level — and as more peoples and cultures are added to the mix, more and more must be pared away. Among the first things to go are the natural cohesion and public trust that organic cultures enjoy; these natural assets must be replaced prosthetically, by an act of power imposed from above. That this artificial, top-down structure in turn creates new inequalities even as it scrapes away familiar liberties must simply be tolerated as the price we pay for our salvation.

In May of 2015 I commented on the dissolution of our own organic culture:

All of the erosive forces at work here — demographic displacement by poorly assimilated immigrants, low birthrates among cognitive elites, multiculturalism, galloping secularism, centralization of Federal power at the expense of local government, anti-traditionalism, hedonistic apathy, instutionalized disparagement of America’s history, mission, cultural heritage, and mythos, and behind it all the universal acid of radical doubt that is the “poison pill” of the Enlightenment itself — all of these things attack and corrode the horizontal ligatures of American civil society, leaving behind only an atomized population with no binding affinities save their vertical dependence upon a Federal leviathan that is, increasingly, the source of all guidance and blessings.

Today I have for you an essay, posted by Mark Citadel at Social Matter, on what sort of organizing principles are necessary for the coalescence of a cohesive, organic society. He argues that mere abstracta will not do; they form the basis of what he calls “artificial collectives” that lack the sinews and ligaments that a living society needs to survive existential pressures.

The survival of a group, preyed upon by others as it will be, is in large part down to its organic, inner coherence or knowledge of itself. If a group lacks this, while at the same time refusing to recognize its enemy, it will succumb in every battle. At some point along this line of error, all the technology in the world couldn’t change the outcome. You won’t even fight. You will fade out in silence. If your society is based upon individualism, you will be playing vidya right up until your killers thunder up the carpeted stairway. If your society is based on some artificial collectivism (David Cameron’s pathetic “British values” come to mind as a good contemporary example), then rest assured, your ultimate security will be as brittle as fretwork in a hail of gunfire.

Read the essay here.

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We Need to Start Leaving Each Other Alone

It should be obvious to all at this point that a very great part of our nation’s political sickness is due to the ever-increasing concentration of power in the hands of the Federal leviathan in Washington, at the expense of local government. (That this is, even at this late stage of the disease, not obvious to many millions of citizens does not augur well for the nation’s prospects, as it makes it far more likely that, the proper treatment not being applied, the disease will progress until the patient dies.) Even if subsidiarity were not a sound principle for all hierarchical organizations, he United States is simply far too large, and far too diverse in political and cultural tradition, for one-size-fits-all regulation by remote and largely unaccountable administrators to provide good government, or to promote harmony and cohesion.

At the time of the Framing, a group of writers known collectively as the Anti-Federalists foresaw this problem, and wrote extensively about it. (You are far more likely to have read The Federalist Papers than the writings of this equally articulate opposition, for the same simple reason that you’ve probably never read Thomas Hutchinson’s Strictures Upon The Declaration of Independence: the Anti-Federalists didn’t win.)

The Cato Institute’s Trevor Burrus has published an essay today illustrating the prescience of the Anti-Federalists. What they feared has come to pass, in exactly the way they predicted.

We read:

For many, the city on the Potomac might as well be a later-stage Rome, sliding into decadent splendor and orgiastic self-absorption. Or, in the words of ‘Cato’ [probably New York governor George Clinton], the “federal city” would be “the asylum of the base, idle, avaricious and ambitious,” that would “possess a language and manners different from yours.”

A national government imbued with unrestrained power would be a bad idea, thought [Robert] Yates, because the people of the country were too diverse to be effectively centrally governed. A remote, national government given such great powers would cause a “constant clashing of opinions; and the representatives of one part will be continually striving against those of the other.”

This was because the “laws and customs of the several states are, in many respects, very diverse, and in some opposite; each would be in favor of its own interests and customs, and, of consequence, a legislature, formed of representatives from the respective parts, would not only be too numerous to act with any care or decision, but would be composed of such heterogeneous and discordant principles, as would constantly be contending with each other.”

Quoting the Constitution’s preamble, Cato sounded the same concerns:

[W]hoever seriously considers the immense extent of territory comprehended within the limits of the United States, together with the variety of its climates, productions, and commerce, the difference of extent, and number of inhabitants in all; the dissimilitude of interest, morals, and politics, in almost every one, will receive it as an intuitive truth, that a consolidated republican form of government therein, can never form a perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to you and your posterity.[/em>

It is well-known in the engineering disciplines that too-tight “coupling” is at the root of many, if not most, failures of complex systems. Far more robust are loosely coupled systems, in which components interact with, and depend on, each other no more than is necessary; in which the actions of each component affect the actions of others only so far as is essential for the operation of the system as a whole; in which friction between components is minimized; and in which the failure of a single component does not unnecessarily cause the failure of others. This is precisely the opposite of the systems that govern us today, at both the national and global level.

Read the whole thing here.

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Vote Suppression

Well, here’s a fine state of affairs: the lovely Nina has thrown out her back here in Wellfleet, MA, and so we can’t make the long ride back to New York — which is where we are registered to vote. I very much doubt that Hillary Clinton will take New York’s electoral votes by a margin of one, but if so, I will be very sorely vexed indeed.

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The Common Touch

From the Podesta emails:

 
“With friends like that…”

See also this. Three days to go, folks. Choose wisely.

The American Heartland As Viscoelastic Liquid: A Case Study

From the Wall Street Journal today:

Places Most Unsettled by Rapid Demographic Change Are Drawn to Donald Trump

ARCADIA, Wis.—Small towns in the Midwest have diversified more quickly than almost any part of the U.S. since the start of an immigration wave at the beginning of this century. The resulting cultural changes appear to be moving the political needle.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of census data shows that counties in a distinct cluster of Midwestern states—Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota—saw among the fastest influxes of nonwhite residents of anywhere in the U.S. between 2000 and 2015. Hundreds of cities long dominated by white residents got a burst of Latino newcomers who migrated from Central America or uprooted from California and Texas.

That shift helps explain the emergence of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as a political force, and signals that tensions over immigration will likely outlive his candidacy. Among GOP voters in this year’s presidential primaries, counties that diversified rapidly were more likely to vote for the New York businessman, the Journal’s analysis shows.

As you probably know by now, I’ve got a metaphor for everything. My metaphor for this, as explained here a year ago, is that societies are like Silly Putty: the faster you deform them, the more likely they are to snap.

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Everyone Needs A Hobby

Here’s a nifty visualization of the Clinton, etc. emails.

Forensic Entomology

From the Express:

A migrant turf war erupted into violence on the streets of one of Paris’ trendiest neighbourhoods early this morning as asylum seekers beat each other to a pulp with wooden clubs.

Story and video here.

A defining characteristic of a living organism is the maintenance of its internal order, and of its boundary with the external world. Draw your own conclusions.

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Star Power

A dramatic clip from NASA Heliophysics. Here.

Firesign Theater

Here is an amusing item: a secret report, ostensibly leaked by the hacker cartel “Anonymous”, outlining the extent of the Clinton disadvantage in the upcoming election, together with some highly imaginative ways to prevent a Trump victory.

Fake, of course – but as I said, amusing. What times we live in!

Read it here.

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The Wild God

Today we have an essay for you, from Francis Spufford, on how two prominent atheists — Sam Harris and Barbara Ehrenreich — have approached their profoundest subjective experiences. It begins:

To say, as people do from time to time, that science is the only source of meaning available to human beings is to consign large swaths of everyday experience to insignificance. (And to offer an open goal to any quick-footed apologist for religion who may be passing.) The implication of the maximal claim for ­science is that anything that can’t be brought within the reach of hypothesis-­experiment-conclusion is to be ignored. I’ve heard Richard Dawkins, on a stage, respond to someone asking why people’s conviction of the presence of God doesn’t count as data: “Oh, all sorts of funny things happen in people’s heads. But you can’t measure them, so they don’t mean anything.” Yet atheists, like everybody else, fall in love, read novels, hum songs, and value the unrepeatable shadings of their sensory and cognitive experiences. The subjective makes its irrefutable demand for attention as soon as you quit the lectern.

So after periods of intense polemic there often comes a point when the polemicists double back to give subjectivity its due. It happened in the nineteenth century at the historical moment after utilitarianism had made its maximal claim that we are all self-­interested calculators. John Stuart Mill in his Autobiography (1873) records his younger self’s discovery that, alongside the utilitarian reading list, he could allow himself the un-rigorous beauties of Wordsworth: “I never turned recreant to intellectual culture, or ceased to consider the power and practice of analysis as an essential condition both of individual and of social improvement. But I thought that it had consequences which required to be corrected, by joining other kinds of cultivation with it.” And now, with the maximal claim of New Atheism just behind us, it seems to be happening again: a similar spiritual stirring, defended by a similar insistence that “analysis,” or its contemporary equivalent, has not been betrayed.

Here.

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Sublime Injustice

In a post from 2013, we quoted Will and Ariel Durant on the persistent delusion of Equality. The pursuit of an unattainable equality has been a reliable political implement throughout the modern history of the West, despite the natural impossibility of its achievement.

Since Nature (here meaning total reality and its processes) has not read very carefully the American Declaration of Independence or the the French Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man, we are all born unfree and unequal; subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacities and qualities of character. Nature loves difference as the necessary material of selection and evolution; identical twins differ in hundreds of ways, and no two peas are alike.

Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. Hereditary inequalities breed social and artificial inequalities; every invention or discovery is made or seized by the exceptional individual, and makes the strong stronger, the weak relatively weaker, than before. Economic development specializes functions, differentiates abilities, and makes men unequally valuable to their group. If we knew our fellow men thoroughly we could select thirty per cent of them whose combined ability would equal that of all the rest. Life and history do precisely that, with a sublime injustice reminiscent of Calvin’s God.

Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies. Leave men free, and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically, as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire. To check the growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed, as in Russia after 1917. Even when repressed, inequality grows; only the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality; those who are conscious of superior ability desire freedom; and in the end superior ability has its way. Utopias of equality are biologically doomed, and the best that the amiable philosopher can hope for is an approximate equality of legal justice and educational opportunity.

In America, the Democratic Party’s brand is built on on its championing of this illusory “equality” — and its ideological handmaiden, “inclusivity”. In reality, of course, just as the Durants (and so many others) understood, there will always be hierarchy and exclusivity: given that inequality is real, natural, and universal, social “equality” must needs be an artificial imposition, and as such can only be maintained by power — a power that will always be exerted by the few upon the many.

Making the rounds today is an article from The Guardian that looks at how this eternal truth manifests itself in present-day America. Read it here.

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One Week Out

With seven days to go until the election, the walls of Festung Clinton are beginning to collapse. The FBI disclosure by James Comey has the campaign furiously denouncing the same man they praised so highly back in July. Clinton mole Donna Brazile is out at CNN for helping Mrs. Clinton cheat on the debates. The stinking pall of corruption surrounding the Clintons and the Democratic Party blackens the sky.

Writing at the blog MANSIZEDTARGET, however, Roman Dmowski argues that even if none of this were so, it wouldn’t matter. We read:

Hillary touts her skill within the system as a qualification, which Trump has dismissed as “bad experience.” She is experienced no doubt, and her experience coupled with her venality and penchant for secrecy is what brought about this entire email situation. But the claim of experience has an additional flaw. While she is clearly of low character, even if she were honest and authentic–like Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich for example–it would not matter.

The goals she aims to achieve are bad ones.

She is hostile to the historic American people, our limited government traditions, our traditional distaste with empire, our desire for a less intrusive government, our unplanned and spontaneous and natural approach to family life, among other things. She is a leftist. And her experience and political skill, such as it is, recommends against her rather than in her favor, because the better she can accomplish her goals, the more we collectively suffer.

Mr. Dmowski makes the point I’ve been making here for years (and that many others, of course, have made as well): that the ideological disagreement in America — so often represented by the Democrats as their side simply wanting to do “what works”, in contrast to the “ideological” obstinacy of the Right) — is at bottom a question of what we want done in the first place. The most fundamental consideration in this election, then, is a matter not of qualifications or experience or competence or even character, but basic premises about our vision of the American nation and culture, and of the proper role of government.

He continues (my emphasis):

The appeal to experience by those in the middle is quaint and wrong-headed. There is no abstract notion of good government in an ideological age. We’re not running a homeowners association or a village deciding to pave with concrete or asphalt. What each side wants to do is quite different. While the GOP’s steady decline as an institution of conservatism masks this, the Trump campaign highlights the issues in full relief. She wants to take our guns, she wants to tax us into oblivion, she wants to flood us with hostile foreigners, she wants government run by people like her to run our lives, she wants neighborhood bakers and schools harassed into accepting transexual mental health sufferers, she wants eight month unborn children to be aborted without any impediment, she wants black criminals elevated above hard-working police, she wants us all dependent on an ever-growing and more intrusive government, and the better she is able to do any of these things, the worse off we are individually and collectively.

In a healthy society, the appeal to experience might have some weight. It has some value in local and even state elections, where the good is conceived less ideologically and more practically in terms of efficiency in bringing about noncontroversial government goods like public safety and public works. But, particularly on a national level and cultural level, we are under attack by a hostile ideology and increasingly our identity itself is under assault by social engineering writ large in the form of mass immigration. But perhaps her manifest public corruption and criminality would give pause to those who think her experience is some kind of virtue. But whether virtue limiting her ambition or vice furthering her designs, it is the leftist content of those designs that chiefly disqualifies her from the presidency.

Yes, Mrs. Clinton is in many ways a very capable woman. But, given her aims:

Like a trained assassin, her abilities and experience are to be feared.

Thank you, Director Comey, for making it, perhaps, just a little less likely that Hillary Clinton, or her husband, will ever again enter the Oval Office. Better late than never.

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Nice!

I’ve been on the road all day — eight hours battling traffic in a fully loaded car with wife, daughter, grandson, and mother-in-law — and only made it to the stormy Outer Cape late this evening. We hadn’t listened to the news during the trip — the A.M. radio in our old Volvo stopped working a few years back — so imagine my delight, when I logged on just now, to find out that the F.B.I. is re-opening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Better yet, the whole thing came back to bite her because of the investigation into Huma Abedin’s estranged husband’s sexual perversions. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of people.

It’s hard to imagine that the bureau would have taken this step, at this crucial time, if they didn’t have something pretty big. As one presidential aspirant remarked upon hearing the news: “perhaps, finally, justice will be done.” Maybe, at last, it will. Hope springs eternal.

I’m reminded of something a noted sage of the Left once said, right here in these pages: “Schadenfreude: it’s a beautiful thing.”

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Where Is Assange?

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has been effectively imprisoned in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for four years. He is accused of rape in Sweden, and the U.K. has spent millions surrounding the embassy in the hope of swooping him up and extraditing him. I won’t comment on the merits of the charges, other than to say that it all appears murky (as high-profile rape cases often do) — and to remark that for Sweden to make such a fuss about this case when that nation has voluntarily made itself, as a matter of idealistic public policy, the rape capital of the Western world, seems a bit much.

I in no way mean to downplay the seriousness of the crime of rape, but obviously there is much more to l’affaire Assange than a sex-offense. Mr. Assange would probably have faced the charges, of which he claims to be innocent, were he not worried that Sweden would in turn send him off to the United States to face a much more dangerous inquiry.

He had lived quietly in the embassy for years, until he began leaking documents that have embarrassed and incriminated the Clintons, Barack Obama, and the Democrat party machine. A few days ago, he had his Internet access cut off. Wikileaks was prepared for this, and had a “dead-man-switch” release schedule in place, so the document dumps have continued.

Now, however, Mr. Assange seems to have gone missing. Rumors abound, including that he has been removed from the embassy, taken to the U.S. in a small plane, and is now in CIA custody. Some have suggested that he is being used as a hostage to apply pressure to a Wikileaks organization that was well-prepared for his death, but which might be coerced into silence to save his life. Someone even suggested that Wikileaks had put a coded message in a series of tweets saying “HELP HIM”.

These are all just rumors, and I have no idea what the truth is. None of them seem too far-fetched to be beyond plausibility, however. Mr. Assange has some very powerful and utterly ruthless enemies.

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The Swamp

Hardly a day goes by now without new evidence of Clintonian corruption. The latest has to do with the FBI’s curiously handled investigation of the Clintons’ email server, and the FBI director’s audacious decision not to recommend charges in the case.

As the Wall Street Journal reports here, after the FBI began its investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s felonious mishandling of classified information the governor of Virginia, longtime Clinton bagman Terry McAuliffe, had his political committees make donations amounting to almost half a million dollars to the election campaign of an obscure state senator, Jill McCabe. That would be odd indeed — half a million is a lot of shekels to be throwing around in such a low-level race — except for the fact that Ms. McCabe is married to FBI director James Comey’s “right-hand man”, Andrew McCabe.

As bad as this is, it is, of course, just the latest drop in an ocean of malfeasance by the Clintons, this thoroughly rotten DOJ, this President, and both political parties. I suppose there have probably been other periods of American history, under other Presidents, where things have been this bad — but the difference, of course, is that thanks to a century of continuous expansion of the managerial Leviathan, and the consolidation of power over every aspect of American life under the power of the State, corruption has never mattered more. It is a given that there will be corruption in government — but the bigger and more powerful the government is, the more corruption it attracts, and the greater that corruption’s noxious effect becomes upon the lives of the people. As Dennis Prager once said: “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.”

Hence Trump. His candidacy is a gigantic middle finger to all of it, from an angry and frustrated people — of whom millions are only one last legal recourse, and one final insult, away from refreshing the tree of liberty in the way Jefferson prescribed.

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Birds Of A Feather

The choleric president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte (the one, in case you’ve forgotten, who called Barack Obama “a son of a whore”), recently announced his “separation” from the United States, and a pivot to China. Why? Well, it obviously makes sense, in an era of spastic and ineffective American foreign policy, for a small nation on China’s doorstep to seek good relations with its powerful neighbor. There is, however, more to the story — as Mark Yuray explains, here.

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The Soul Of A New Machine

You’ve probably heard of “quantum computing”, but you may not know what it is. Here is a piece by Peter Diamandis, of Singularity University, that gives a helpful introduction to the key idea: that the bizarre “superposition” of a particle’s unmeasured quantum states makes it possible for n quantum bits (or “qubits”) to do the processing work of 2n “classical” bits.

How to take advantage of this has been a challenging problem both technically and algorithmically, but it is yielding, and the technology should begin to become useful within the next few years. Once the power of the qubit is in harness, whole classes of problems that, in terms of processing time, “scale up” exponentially on classical machines will now scale linearly.

This is no small thing; in particular it will enable modeling of complex systems that are, in principle, beyond the reach not only of current supercomputers, but of any classical computer that could ever be constructed. Peter Diamandis is right to apply S.U.’s favorite adjective — “disruptive” — to the prospect of this technology’s arrival.

The tone of Mr. Diamandis’s piece, as with everything related to Singularity University, is one of breathless excitement; when I spent a fascinating week there a few years ago, I remember one of the speakers saying that “if you can see the road ahead, you aren’t going fast enough.” To say that an emerging technology is “disruptive” is, for the members of this community, the highest praise.

This infatuation with “disruption” puzzles me. If the best societies are organic, living systems, as I believe them to be, then “disruption” is hardly a thing to be wished for. Would you like to have your family routine, or the regularities of your daily life, “disrupted”? Would an ecologist encourage the “disruption” of a healthy and balanced ecosystem? If I offered you a pill that would “disrupt” the workings of your own bodily organism, would you take it?

I’m no Luddite, and have, in my two careers as a recording engineer and software developer, always been an “early adopter” of new technologies. But I’m old enough now, have read enough history, and have seen enough radical change in my own sixty years, to understand that not all of the modern world’s “progress”, either technical or social, has in fact been a movement toward greater human flourishing and happiness.

I understand that technology will advance, willy-nilly, and that the pace is increasing. Nothing short of a major civilizational catastrophe could prevent it. I am sure as well that many of these advances will provide astonishing material benefits, and will confer upon us powers that would have seemed magical — even godlike — not so long ago.

What I have far less confidence in is our own wisdom and foresight. Our technology is advancing exponentially. I see no evidence that our judgment, our self-mastery, or our insight into the eternal conundrum of human nature and the human experience, are advancing at all.

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Service Notice

Our daughter’s visiting from Austria with our infant grandson, and we are all out of town for a wedding this weekend. Back soon. Chat amongst yourselves, if you like.

The Observer-Created World

We’ve just had another intractable disagreement in our most recent comment-thread (with, of course, our resident Clintonian gadfly). The dispute is, in microcosm, the same that is pulling America, and indeed all of the West, to pieces.

As I have said many times before, so much depends on axioms, and on what words mean.

We read a sentence like this:

And while there may be “millions of aroused American patriots” enraged at social change, there are millions more American patriots who believe in diversity, inclusiveness, Obamacare, a return to balance on the Supreme Court after thirty years of right wing control, and the other things which will drive Clinton voters to the polls.

Consider “diversity”. (“Inclusiveness” is just another word for the same thing, as is “multiculturalism”.) Here we see the axiom that more of it is always better, despite that assertion’s being completely at odds with our empirical experience (ever-increasing racial and ethnic tensions everywhere in the West, the need for increasingly totalitarian “hate-speech” laws, and the enormous cost of the burgeoning “diversity-management” industry being obvious examples), at odds with any careful examination of what makes cultures and societies happy and cohesive (see here and here), and sharply at odds with all the lessons of history — which teach us again and again that, sooner or later, Diversity + Proximity = War.

Where one person says “diversity” and “inclusivity”, then, another reads: “open borders, demographic displacement, Balkanization, cultural deliquescence, worsening social tension, more intervention to manage that tension, and of course the steady accumulation of new Democratic voters and clients of the ever-expanding managerial state.”

Where one person says:

Others are angry because ordering chicken at a Roy Rogers on the turnpike is frustrating when the counterman lacks English skills (although – who knows? – he could be the Syrian refugee whose son starts Apple Computer).

… another sees a nest of hidden axioms, namely that (a) all people from anywhere are exactly fungible, (b) that a randomly chosen illiterate immigrant from anywhere on earth stands a robustly non-zero chance of siring the next Steve Jobs, and that (c) this prospect is both so likely and so attractive that it justifies, in terms of the policy interests of American citizens, flinging open the borders to thousands, or perhaps millions, of profoundly alien and unvettable immigrants on the chance that the offspring of one of them may someday sell us a better phone. Moreover, so incommensurable are the axioms here that where one person will read what I’ve just written and see in it the traditional human virtues: love of home and country, love of peace and harmonious order, love of one’s culture and heritage, a grateful sense of obligation to those who built it all for us, and love of the generations yet unborn for whom all of these treasures are to be cherished, preserved and protected — another will read it and see only “hate”, and fear of change. (Implicit in that is yet another hidden axiom, namely that change — which is of course inevitable — is also innately and self-justifyingly good, and so should not be questioned or resisted.)

Where one person sees “thirty years of right-wing control” of the Supreme Court, another sees a wholesale abandonment of Constitutional rigor, the usurpation of the public will in order to advance the destruction of States’ rights and the traditional moral order, and the discovery of mysterious and ever-unfolding “emanations” from Constitutional clauses and amendments whose original purposes were clear, limited, and clearly limited.

And so on.

These are not petty differences, and they are not, by their nature, amenable to compromise. (Existential questions are like that. If I see that you are about to drive us over a cliff, and you say there is no cliff, what is our compromise?) We are at a point of such outright and deepening hostility between two fundamentally incompatible visions of America, the American tradition, the role of government, the moral order, the right to association, the meaning of the Constitution — in the simplest terms, of what is good and right and sacred — that the best we can really hope for now is some kind of divorce. It is the great tragedy of our age that the geographical interpenetration of these hostile camps makes this almost impossible. We cannot live together — we cannot agree on the most basic principles of society and government, or of rights and truths and responsibilities — and we cannot get away from each other. How much suffering we might avoid in the months and years to come, if only we could.

Finally, to make matters worse, let’s go “meta”: while one person sees the moral and axiomatic fault-lines I’ve described above, and recognizes that the tectonic strain is reaching the point of catastrophic release — another thinks that his candidate will simply win the coming election, we’ll all have a good laugh at the fools who lost, and things will “get back to normal”.

Place your bets.

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I’m Shocked – Shocked!

It’s been a busy few days, with little time for writing. But I won’t run off without offering a morsel to sustain you (and to reassure you that things are, indeed, as they seem).

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Caste And Character

Tonight’s reading assignment is an outstanding essay, Weaving the Basket of Deplorables, recently posted at the site The Dissenting Sociologist. Its epopseudonymous author (sorry, but I felt the need for a name that’s both an eponym and a pseudonym), whom I shall call DS, has done a masterful job of distilling and clarifying some core neoreactionary ideas.

I am going to excerpt key sections, but please don’t let that stop you from reading the essay in its entirety. If you want to understand the new, deeply dissident Right, this is an important contribution, and is very well worth your time.

The point of entry is the increasing antipathy of our cultural and political aristocracy toward a certain segment of the American polity, as displayed most recently by Hillary Clinton’s remarks about them on the campaign trail (an antipathy that is also overwhelmingly evident in media and academia). These “deplorables” — to Barack Obama they are “bitter clingers” — were, however, once seen as the heartwood of the American nation. (In any purely practical sense, they still are.)

We read:

It is symptomatic that the leader of one of the two historic governing parties of that country, who as a Presidential candidate aspires to embody the unity of the body politic, should in the very course of attempting to convince others of her fitness for that role try to rhetorically DISMEMBER the corporate body of society, to proclaim that one of that body’s own organs- once by standard rhetorical convention exalted in political speech as the very “backbone of society”- is so much irredeemable social refuse deserving not only to be cast out of the social body, but regarded as as an anti-national element (“they are not America”).

This is worrisome:

Without wanting to lapse into alarmist dudgeon here, an appraisal of the nature and history of the modern State strongly suggests that, when a given social group is identified by elite political and ideological functionaries as an irredeemable anti-national element- viz. objectively dangerous to the State- a social process has already been set into motion that may not end well for that group, and that working-class Whites would do well to continue to cling to their guns, as the acting President of the USA has depicted them as doing.

Is this a question of class? If so, it’s not an ordinary one:

The upper classes … can be expected to sneer down their blue noses at the Great Unwashed at least a little bit. But it’s quite another thing for those classes — in any society tasked with the duty of care of the social whole — to propose that the plebs should collectively be regarded as altogether beyond the pale. In the West right now, elites are not only doing exactly that, but as though to add insult to injury seek in one and the same stroke to incorporate hordes of various migrants, who are often there illegally, and in any case exhaustively foreign (by birth, race, language, nationality, culture, and religion), as valued members of society while reducing the indigenous organic working class to the status of illegal aliens at best- and enemy nationals at worst- in their own country.

DS argues that this is better understood not as a matter of class, but of caste. This is a key insight (and one with which well-read NRx’ers will be familiar):

In order to grasp the meaning and significance of this class war from above, we need to go beyond the Marxian concept of class to the much deeper phenomenon of caste, as the bedrock social division of any Indo-European civilization past or present. [Mencius] Moldbug was on to something perhaps greater than he intended when he famously proposed that certain dynamics of contemporary American society could be profitably redescribed through ancient Hindu terminology. Caste not only provides a fresh perspective on current events, but in some cases, the only truly adequate one.

Analyzed in light of caste, the true bottom-line comes into view, as follows. It is well-known that, in modern society, politics takes over the place and function of religion as the privileged centre of social integration and thus as the dominant force that bears upon every aspect of life. Just as pre-Modern society found its all-encompassing unity in e.g. the “mystical body of Christ”, so Modern society finds its own unity in the “artificial person” of Hobbes’ political Leviathan, which aggregates a mass of isolate individual atoms into a single social organism. The State is co-extensive with society and defines its boundaries, just as religion once was.

The society in which religion is the dominant force always sets a certain bar of purity where its rites and rituals are concerned, and accordingly banishes from the ritual community individuals, and whole categories of individuals, deemed indelibly polluted, degraded, and corrupt, such that their very presence in the midst of public worship would be contaminating to the point of desecrating the proceedings. This vile condition typically accrues by, variously, work deemed unclean and debased, contracting certain types of disease, eating foods prohibited by dietary rules, miscegenation, infamous dereliction of morals or social duty, or ritual performance and utterance that is inexcusably incompetent or derelict.

The effort, in present American society, to banish an entire subset of the citizenry from the political community is clearly analogous to the older form of ritual exclusion. In this light, there can no longer be any doubt concerning the meaning of phrases like “basket of deplorables” in elite political discourse, with its image of a garbage bin filled with White people (cf. “White trash”) who fully deserve to have been discarded there: the elite is attempting to debase the White working class to the status of an untouchable caste, a new chandala for the secular 21st century milieu.

What is the cause of this “coming apart”? It is tempting to imagine that it is due to the widening gulf between the types of work the two castes do, but that explanation, while not wrong, still falls short:

Intuitively, it would appear that the cause lies in working-class involvement with industrial, construction, or agricultural labour increasingly further and further removed from the horizon of upper or even middle-class experience, and in the process come to be thought of by the latter classes as indelibly dirty and degrading. This is only partially true; the elite does not propose that other socially tenuous castes e.g. lower-class Blacks or Latinos deserve to be completely kicked out of society for doing those and other still more menial forms of work (the very opposite is true, to say the very least). Thus the Marxian hypothesis that predicts an exact correspondence between one’s place in the labour process and social status doesn’t exactly pan out here.

No, it is a question of a breach of ritual, an insufficient deference to what is sacred in our new secular ekklesia (I have bolded what I think are two especially important passages):

It is rather to ritual itself — more accurately, its secular and political functional equivalent — that we have to look. Mrs. Clinton made that absolutely clear; the White working-class deplorables, and their political speaker, Donald Trump, are deplorable because they either out of ignorance or willfully break with good ritual form and decorum as defined by the protocols of what is known in popular parlance, and with exact sociological precision, as political correctness…

In most societies, public ritual and its exactitudes do not concern the labouring castes, who on an a priori basis are deemed incompetent to perform it, and are quite content to leave this area to the priestly and other superior castes. In the West, this sociological default setting began to change, over the course of the past several centuries, with:

the rise of Protestantism, in which each worshiper takes an active part in the proceedings on a more or less equal footing as part of the universal priesthood, and is held to the same, exactingly high, standard of conduct

— the rise of mandatory universal and standardized education

— finally, the rise of democratic notions of citizenship, according to which each citizen has both the legal right and ethical obligation to stay abreast of public affairs, to vote according to his conscience and interest, and above all, to speak freely on all subjects (“civic participation”).

The “democratic” ideal of a mass of standardized citizens collectively making decisions on an individualistic and egalitarian basis is, of course, a Utopian fancy that has not been realized anywhere and will not be. Our societies continue to be vertically organized according to a caste hierarchy, and the governing castes continue to define the standards of public protocol, decorum, and good form. What democratic ideology does succeed at doing, though, is seriously undermining the social authority of the governing castes on the one hand, and on the other hand conscripting working-class participation in affairs in which their input may clash dramatically with the expected standards set by the higher castes.

How does this have a uniquely delaminating effect in a democratic, and ostensibly egalitarian society, as compared to more firmly stratified ones? Pay attention here, because this is another innate liability of doctrinal egalitarianism (and by extension, democracy itself):

The net result with respect to political correctness is as follows. Where the right to pronounce sacred words, and the corresponding obligation to hold one’s conduct to the highest standards of moral and ritual purity, would by civilizational default be jealously reserved to the highest castes, today each citizen is expected to do his part to Celebrate Diversity, Ban Bossy, be an LGBT Ally, and so on like that. This means mastering, and then publicly repeating, words like “systemic racism”, “misogyny”, “White privilege”, etc.

The working class, as a group, sometimes runs into problems with this sort of thing, which is foreign to the overall working-class horizon of lived experience and likely to be rejected by a greater or lesser number of its members accordingly.

In other words, the strain occurs when modes of speech and thought are imposed on people for whom they are simply not believable. And why aren’t they? Because they collide with reality in ways that the caste doing the imposing does not personally experience (I have bolded another key passage here):

The typical early-adulthood bourgeois experience starts with attending University. There the student learns the correct cant from the source, and is rewarded for repeating it. He then goes on to take a white-collar job, where the exact measurement of his productive output is difficult or altogether impossible, and where in any case proven mastery of this or that form of correct ritual jargon will be a criterion of his fitness for assuming a management role. Once again, he is rewarded for repeating, in the presence of superiors, cant he need not actually understand, and which likely has no precise denotation in any case.

The working-class experience is different. The blue-collar youth is much more likely to enter the workforce immediately, or following completion of vocational training. In any case, whatever technical terminology he learns does have a precise technical denotation that must be understood in order to carry out practical operations whose success or failure will have productive consequences immediately and transparently known to everybody in the work process. (N.B. much the same set of considerations can also go for University-educated STEM personnel, especially engineers- who, to the extent that this is the case, really comprise part of the working-class, notwithstanding that both the salaries and social prestige attached to these positions are often very high).

The bourgeois youth acquires, both by training and experience, a “postmodern” worldview in which there is no objective reality worth worrying about, and pleasing superiors in positions of power- which means telling them the things they want to hear- is what really counts. Use of language, for him, is thus primarily a matter of social, i.e. ritual and magical, efficacy. His working-class counterpart, who bears the weight of objective reality on his shoulders the live-long day as though Atlas, primarily uses language that has a direct connection to material reality, exerts its effects by direct action on material reality as opposed to acting on social reality from a distance, and thus has mechanical as opposed to magical efficacy. This individual naturally regards the postmodern attitude with scorn, those who use magical language as untrustworthy charlatans, those who are socially but not mechanically efficacious as effeminate, and ritual cant with skepticism, if not open derision.

Those for whom words and ideas are generally much more than social utilities empty of substantive contents, but have serious practical implications, are also that much more likely to think the practical implications of politically-correct cant all the way through, and to ask certain critical questions: What would happen to society if polymorphous perversity became the rule? Why are all White people evil, or all straight men “misogynist”, because some of them are? Am I not in a certain existential danger for being a straight White male, now that all of us are collectively impugned? Meanwhile, none of this even occurs to the postmodern mindset- after all, the practical nuts-and-bolts of things are somebody else’s job to worry about.

Last but not least, the working-class guy is more likely, especially if from a geographical area in which industry/resource-extraction and/or agriculture is prevalent in the economy, and/or from a small community with relatively high social cohesion, to already have traditional values, regularly attend church, and so on, and so find the ultra-Leftist content of PC cant to be utterly odious and depraved from a moral point of view to begin with.

The potential for fairly serious social friction in all this is obvious.

That “potential for serious social friction” is an equally serious understatement; the potential is becoming actual all around us in these darkening times.

Go and read the whole thing, here. Then, if you like, we can discuss.

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Pussy, Ariot

This is where we’ve got to.