Archive for January, 2011

Confused conservatives

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Conservatives make themselves an easy target for attack because most of them are confused about the core of conservative belief. They know the current issues but not their derivation.

This situation becomes problematic because (a) it means conservatives can only find a majority on surface issues, which leaves the underlying concerns unaddressed and (b) it makes them resemble the opposition and as a result seem less like an actual alternative.

We got to this situation because, since 1789, conservatives have been fighting a rearguard action. Among the population at large, liberalism is massively preferred — it seems more affable, it makes us look good to friends, and it’s what rich and successful people seem to endorse.

Very few people bother to ask why that is the case, which is that liberalism is half of the equation: it’s the emotion, the sentiment, the grand-sounding moral statement, but without awareness of effects and side-effects.

“We should just give everyone in the world a half-gallon of ice cream” is a morally tempting statement, but what are the consequences of it? Not much except that most of them will throw the empty containers on the ground. But it might win an election, if you replace ice cream with “free” health care or “free” welfare or some other appeasement program.

Liberalism strikes at our armchair King-for-a-day tendencies. We want to be benevolent, compassionate rulers who rose above the demands of the day and so guaranteed themselves a place in history. What we’ve missed out on is that throughout history, liberalism has been not only the most popular political belief, but the standard most societies follow.

For example, in primitive societies, distribution of wealth is often the norm. This means that no one ever gets more than others, so there are no leaders. This makes for a peaceful society, except one that can only respond to immediate needs. These societies often get obliterated by natural disasters that they could have seen coming, especially famines.

Conservatism fights this wave bravely, but many conservative beliefs are — how do we delicately put this? — things you don’t say in public. Like the little truths we conceal in life, such as that Sandra better get her husband to alcoholics anonymous or the marriage is over, conservative speaks unpopular truths that do not address surface issues but underlying cause-effect relationships proven over time.

These are exactly the kind of things liberalism seeks to avoid. Liberalism is about a work-around: I know it seems we should do it this way, and this way is the safe answer, but maybe that way will work instead, and look, it sounds a lot nicer.

Conservatism, despite popular pretense, has science and history on its side. France removed itself from world power status with its Glorious People’s Revolution, handing over power to unstable leaders who then bled the region dry. Both France and Russia killed off their people capable of real leadership, reducing the average IQ of both places and turning them into shadows of their former selves. France used to be a superpower. Russia once had pretenses of the same.

However, these truths are far beyond what most people can handle. They focus on the time between pay periods, so any consequence that isn’t immediate (think of slapstick: pull nose, get hit on head) is off the menu. They are mostly unaware of anything but themselves. They do what they want, and if an objection is raised, they feel they are the injured party. They have no time for lacey-fancy worries like the environment, culture or learning. That won’t help you at an entry-level job.

As a result, conservatives live in a schizophrenic space. We have one series of “truths” we tell the public, about the surface game of appearance and emotions, and then another level of truths we tell each other when the cognac and cigars come out late in the night.

These truths usually overlap with common sense:

  • No equality. Not everyone is equal in ability. Even more, hierarchy is everywhere because we need to find the more competent and promote them. We should consider the vote and words of a genius or war hero above those of someone who has not so differentiated themselves.
  • Social consensus. There needs to be a single standard of what is right and what is wrong, and what our society rewards and what it punishes. In the middle are people who get basically ignored. This standard cannot be moralistic, or practical, but must be both at the same time.
  • Time-proven solutions. What connects cause to effect? Time. We can see what causes made what effects consistently. We pursue the ones that worked, and discard the ones that don’t. New theories are just theory until proven, and that can take centuries, but luckily history provides us examples of all of them and their results.
  • Culture and nationalism. People group with people like them. If you want a social consensus, so that corporation marketers and demagogues don’t take over, you need the kind of unity that culture and shared heritage provide.
  • Social Darwinism. Conservatives do not like to admit that we are Darwinists. We want the best to rise, and we recognize that that is an elite few rather an precondition of the masses. We don’t like to spread the wealth, because concentrating it in the hands of the competent makes more wealth, and giving it to random people dissipates it.
  • Environmentalism? Conservationism. Environmentalists want to stop environmental decline by changing our lifestyles. Conservatives want to set aside huge amounts of land so that it can be conserved as it is, and in turn, will raise the value of our existing land. People are people, and they disrupt nature if allowed in it, so the only solution is conservation: set aside people-free zones.

These truths, if spoken so plainly on mainstream TV, would seem impolite and unsociable to most people. That mentality is exactly where conservatives must begin their battle to recapture the nation and steer it away from the bad path to third world levels of disorganization on which liberalism has sent it. We need to stop pretending this is about winning an election, but about winning a country back from a destructive path with which there is no compromise. We need to gain power and put society on a better path entirely.

What do we call a conservative who is confused about these core truths? We could call them a neo-conservative, or alternately, a neo-liberal. These two things mean the same, which is a moderate or cherry-picker artificially constructed from one side or the other but equal enough parts of each to make them neither.

Neoconservatives fight wars for equality and democracy; they are concerned that affirmative action promotes “racism.” They want more Robin Hood programs for the poor, and believe in the value of education for everyone. In short, they’re liberals who dislike abortion and want small government, and this is why they win some elections but never built a lasting power structure.

If conservatism is to thrive, it must confront liberalism with where it is illogical, point out that liberals win by demagoguery only, and then avoid the same pitfalls by becoming straight-talking solution-givers. We’ve got enough panderers already and conservatives cannot compete with liberals on this basis, because liberals offer all conservatives do in this area, plus entitlements that are effective voter bribes.

Among the middle classes in America and Europe, there exists a majority who would either support true conservative ideas, or if they saw them in practice would rapidly become supporters. We’re seeing this happen in France and a little bit in Germany, and in America with some factions of the Tea Party.

Maybe it’s time we ended the schizoid division of conservatives, and replaced that confusion with a clear idea of what a better society might be.

Sex and Love

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Whether or not human beings have immortal souls, we live as biological entities. As such, we recombine our genes with each other in a process known as sexual reproduction. That is where the easy statements end.

Some believe sex should be no more than a bodily function: a need to be discharged. Others think we should sacralize life, and see sex not as an end, but as a means to an end. This end is the family, it is love, and it is a cornerstone of our civilization.

Without people in love raising healthy families, we quickly become a rabble of emotionally-damaged people who want to one-up each other in an ongoing quest for social supremacy. This centerless society is miserable because no one can tell what sort of behavior is rewarded, leaving them to guess and (statistically most likely) get it wrong, then be punished by bad consequences.

In a centered society, a clear path exists. Once a path exists, you start to judge your actions by “are these on the path, or off the path?” And since decision itself is selective, these societies reward selectivity. Instead of consuming with mass appetites, thinking that more is better, we are forced to acknowledge that better quality in the right context is what we seek.

We’ve chucked that out the window in a modern time, and made sex a bodily function. What’s the result? For starters, many more single women in their 30s and above. The Western world is awash in single women nearing the end of their reproductive age, and most of them have had too many sexual partners to be seen as highly valued, or to value themselves highly. As a result, they keep giving it away, and men treat them like free sample packs at the supermarket.

Now, we know that the peak of a girl’s sexual market value is in her late teens/early twenties. After 25, her value starts declining slowly, and after thirty, it plummets. Not to mention that unless she is a chaste angel, her number of partners is only going to go up. Idle vaginas are the slut’s workshop.

So basically, the conventional wisdom of the dating world mandates that a man has to spend INCREASING amounts of money on a woman as her sexual value DECREASES! The only time this relationship collapses is when the woman in question hits cougar years and her value has gone so low that not even the marriage-industrial complex’s nonstop fusillade of lies can obscure what can be seen with your own eyes.

What this means is if you’re a beta male (the majority of men), in order to gain access to that sacred portal of pleasure every woman has betwixt her thighs, you’re expected to shell out cash for dates. If you want to have an LTR, you’ve got to shell out a whole lot more. And when you finally pop the question, like the good little obedient serf you are, you’ve got to spend three months’ salary on a goddamn ring and four or five figures on the ceremony and related shit. All this so your blushing, mid-to-late twenties bride, who likely spent her salad years hoovering down the jizz of players, bad boys, pickup artists, and other alphas FOR FREE, can brag to her fellow yentas about how she’s snared herself a nest slave husband. – In Mala Fide

The author above uses the term “beta male” differently than we do at this blog. Around here, betas are the wimpy geeks who do not have the vir to create and to think outside of the box. Alphas are the ones that do that. Alphas would not necessarily look good in a movie; it’s a spiritual-intellectual-physical status, not an aesthetic one. In the way Ferdinand Bardamu, author of the above post, uses the term, betas are normal productive people and alphas are movie stars and pro athletes. I think that classification works in the third world, but not in the Northern communities of Asia and Europe, where smart, reliable, competent men are valued and seen as more virile than some screwball with a Camaro.

In another piece, he continues:

The issue that I and other bloggers are confronting here is the sexual impoverishment of beta males in the modern West. Western civilization is uniquely superior to all other societies because it was built by and for betas, harnessing their physical and mental power to create advanced technology, stable systems of governance, and economic prosperity. No other civilization – not the Chinese, not the Africans, not the Arabs, not the Amerindians – has ever managed to reach the heights obtained by European states and their offshoots because of this crucial difference. The reason angry ladybloggers can sit on their dimpled derrieres in air conditioned buildings and write blog posts displaying their painful ignorance to the world is because of the beta males who designed and built all of those things. Without them, as Camille Paglia said, “we would still be living in grass huts.”

To benefit betas and keep them invested in society, checks were placed on the sexual behavior of women and the alpha males whom they lusted after. The configuration of marriage afforded betas a chance to procreate, while protecting the women with whom they entered into holy matrimony. In the past four decades, these checks have been annihilated. Using the power of the state, radical feminists initiated a massive redistribution of wealth from the provider beta class to women. Alimony and child support payments, along with no-fault divorce, have annihilated marriage’s value, while welfare state programs such as WIC (Women, Infants, Children) reward women who become pregnant out of wedlock. Put simply, the socialist state has reduced the value of the provider beta to nothing. If provider betas were a corporation, it would have filed for bankruptcy and had its assets sold to the highest bidder years ago. Without the opportunity to reproduce, betas will give the bird to society and drop out, leaving the world to rot. – In Mala Fide

Many of us drift toward conservatism because we realize just how vast a disaster liberalism has been. In the United States, our parents and grandparents in the 1960s inherited the wealthiest nation on earth, and they’ve turned it into a third-world Kali-Yuga ruin. By third world, I don’t mean the third world, but having the level of dysfunction, kleptocracy, disorganization, bad hygiene and low average IQ that we associate with the third world. The USA’s average IQ is probably heading downward to 98 at this point, coming close to joining Russia and France, who both reduced theirs to 96 by having a People’s Revolution and killing off the smart people, who were blameless for the nation’s failures.

The family is the root of selective behavior. When you choose a mate, it becomes a choice and an empowering one. You have selected this person as important to you, as sacred to you, and by opting for none of the others, you have made them the focus of your world. There is no resentment for past lovers if they do not exist. If they do exist, the resentment becomes understated, but lurks constantly. Fidelity and trust go out the window, and marriage becomes a political and economic contract only, and loses any sacred character. With that goes much of the respect you could have for your spouse.

Obviously, the left- and feminist-inclined will object here. “But what about bad marriages?” What about the fact that despite our sexual liberation and no-fault divorce, people are still living in bad relationships? One explanation is that if you screw up the choice the first time, you’re going to screw it up the second time — and you’re already used goods, a markdown. Subconsciously, we all know someone who has gone through one divorce is more likely to go through a second, which means the reasons for that bad choice and the ensuing bad or illogical behavior are still there in that person. Which is better, one bad marriage — or four? Even worse, how about those two bad marriages and then being single for your declining years, while you increasingly struggle to find sexual partners in an attempt to salve with quantity what you lack in quality?

The issue that I and other bloggers are confronting here is the sexual impoverishment of beta males in the modern West. Western civilization is uniquely superior to all other societies because it was built by and for betas, harnessing their physical and mental power to create advanced technology, stable systems of governance, and economic prosperity. No other civilization – not the Chinese, not the Africans, not the Arabs, not the Amerindians – has ever managed to reach the heights obtained by European states and their offshoots because of this crucial difference. The reason angry ladybloggers can sit on their dimpled derrieres in air conditioned buildings and write blog posts displaying their painful ignorance to the world is because of the beta males who designed and built all of those things. Without them, as Camille Paglia said, “we would still be living in grass huts.”

To benefit betas and keep them invested in society, checks were placed on the sexual behavior of women and the alpha males whom they lusted after. The configuration of marriage afforded betas a chance to procreate, while protecting the women with whom they entered into holy matrimony. In the past four decades, these checks have been annihilated. Using the power of the state, radical feminists initiated a massive redistribution of wealth from the provider beta class to women. Alimony and child support payments, along with no-fault divorce, have annihilated marriage’s value, while welfare state programs such as WIC (Women, Infants, Children) reward women who become pregnant out of wedlock. Put simply, the socialist state has reduced the value of the provider beta to nothing. If provider betas were a corporation, it would have filed for bankruptcy and had its assets sold to the highest bidder years ago. Without the opportunity to reproduce, betas will give the bird to society and drop out, leaving the world to rot. – In Mala Fide

Marriage allows men and women to rest easily, if chastity is also enforced. After the sexual revolution? Not so much, and men lose out because the woman has her slutfun for her early years, then settles for marriage, but she’s not only used goods, but also unlikely to abandon her previous promiscuous behavior entirely. After the sexual revolution, our divorce rate is 50% of all marriages. What does this tell us about its effects on us? Quite simply: it has ruined our ability to commit, and to make discerning choices. Instead, like other areas of modern life, sex and marriage have become subsets of the pursuit of convenience and desire. This is why traditional societies emphasized sexual fidelity not just for women, but for men as well, in order to set that cornerstone firmly and give people an expectation of happiness, love and sacred union, instead of an expectation of bodily functions which decrease one’s worth to potential future spouses.

The truth is that men willing to commit to a woman in this day and age are in short short supply, and your value is high. You can afford to be a little picker than you think. Here’s my list of criteria:

4. Positive Family History. Did she have a reasonably intact family home and childhood? If she’s from a divorced family then you will have a higher likelihood of divorce in your marriage to her. Again the purpose of your marriage is not to save a woman, it’s to have a happy productive life with someone. Is the rest of her family basically normal and generally free of mental illness, developmental disabilities, crime, cancer and drama? By all means make allowances for the few black sheep in every family, but a coherent bad pattern is a stumbling block. If meeting her family feels like a social worker visit just bail and start over.

5. She Has A Clue. I don’t care what it is that she does at college, or even if she doesn’t go, but either way she needs some sort of direction and purpose to her life that doesn’t really require you to be attached to her for her to have a life of her own that’s functional and productive. If the whole point of her life is simply to meet a man and be a Stay At Home Mom, that fine as long as she is displaying a top notch SAHM skill set already. I’m talking baked goods, knitting, cooking, child care, cleaning, decorating and social planning skills. Or put another way – would some rich ass family hire her as housekeeper/nanny for $40,000 a year? I want to see some sort of ability to hold a job and responsibilities together as an adult.

6. Virgin. You heard me. The fewer sexual partners a woman has before marriage the higher her marital satisfaction and the sexual satisfaction she has within marriage. You very much want your wife to sexually imprint on sex with you and completely bond to you. The sex is just going to be that much better over the long term. Not to mention no other ex-lovers lurking on Facebook, sexual diseases, bad experiences and regrets to worry about. The harsh truth to the modern hook up girl is that yes indeed every time you sleep with another man, you damage your long term wife potential. Plus the best predicator of future behavior is past behavior and highly promiscuous women before marriage are probably far more likely to cheat on you during marriage. – Athol Kay

Let’s re-read that:

The fewer sexual partners a woman has before marriage the higher her marital satisfaction and the sexual satisfaction she has within marriage.

This isn’t just about men; it’s about men checking out because women have debased themselves, which ends up with both women and men — both part A and part B of the marriage equation — feeling bad about life, or living in constant distrust, or reducing their standards to those of rutting animals. Our conservative politicians have mostly failed us on this front by attacking abortion and gay marriage as symbolic assaults on the family, but the bigger assault is the sexual revolution itself. However, like race and class war, this is a topic that’s “off limits” for corporate/prime time-friendly politicians. Let’s talk about arms sales to Outer Bloviatopia instead.

Not only is the family the cornerstone of society, but the way we approach sex and the family defines how we view all other parts of our lives:

Actions viewed as means to an end often register to us as a loss, or more specifically a psychic sunk cost. And like I’ve mentioned before, human beings are very loss averse. Actions views as ends on the other hand register as a psychic win, even if it’s a goal that to most sane people would consider anything but positive.

The means/end paradox occurs in when two people are caught in a dynamic where one person’s viewing his actions as means to an end, thereby accruing losses, or psychic sunk costs, while the person viewing his actions as ends is mentally maximizing wins. Thanks to the principle of loss aversion, the means-motivated person becomes more heavily invested and winds up in a sunk cost trap. And the end-motivated person increasingly feels less invested because he’s only been accruing psychic gains the whole time. As a result, the means-based person will usually have more trouble walking away from the relationship and being more tempted to invest more resources than the end-based person.

Means/end congruence on the other hand is when both parties are on the same page when it comes to motives and sunk costs and therefore feel similarly invested. – The Rawness

With marriage as sacred, there is inherent means/ends congruence and no partner comes out ahead and can spite, scorn or disrespect the other. Even more, it shows us an archetype for life: our bodies rot, our wealth disappears, and even the people who know slowly vanish. What lasts? A sacred experience of life, a union with the process of living and transcendent acceptance of what it is to be alive. Is that the best way to live? If you can do it, yes; not everyone can. But a society that emphasizes this encourages the best of life for the best of its people, and those who cannot participate are just as doomed as they are in any other type of society.

From a traditionalist source:

When the sense of metaphysical reality is lost, the proper place for morality in metaphysical relation is lost as well. This is seen most explicitly in the modern world. Where morality ceases to serve its higher principle, it becomes abstract, loses its positive world-forming function, and has a deleterious effect on the virile functioning of the person. Made individual, morality loses its demonstrable value; there is no longer an effective basis for spreading its fruits. – Gornahoor

If we have party A (a man) and party B (a woman) there is an implicity party C (a goal/a values system). Parties A and B can fight back and forth for dominance, or agree that C is the goal, and fight for that instead of trying to manipulate, control and cheat each other. This is a more enlightened way of life than the progressive, liberal and modern idea of the individual as a nexus of desire and choice finding significance in choices that are essentially indistinguishable from those others make. Yes, you wore a red hat with the maroon boots, so you must be unique — except not. Trivial choices do not define us. Character-building choices, like who to marry, do.

What else has sexual liberation brought us?

An estimated 95% of the rapes that take place in the UK are never reported. Only 6.5% of reported rapes in England and Wales result in a conviction on the charge of rape. – The Guardian

Why so few convictions? Because in a time of sexual liberation, there’s almost no way to prove rape. Unless a dozen people saw the woman screaming “stop rape” after she was assaulted by a random person, there’s no real evidence. Semen or a condom? Also used for consensual sex. Evidence of roughness? Also happens during “normal” sex. He will say she said she wanted to have sex; she’ll say she didn’t. Did she change her mind? Did he misread the signals? It’s not as serious a crime anymore, because with so many women chucking the goods out the door without a second thought, it’s hard to prove they were unlikely to have said yes. No one wants to start another million-dollar court case where the evidence will never be strong enough to satisfy many critical observers.

Men’s response to this neurotic and increasingly unstable situation is to check out. Men love sex, but when sex becomes a risk and a burden, there’s beer and video games, or even just doing something productive. Tragically, this means the people who drop out of the mating/dating game first are those most likely to have a measure of self-control, and thus intelligence. We are downbreeding ourselves into idiots by turning our women into whores, driving away the good men, and alienating anyone left into sexual burnouts.

Another take on the morality angle:

1. How do we restore a virtuous society?

Short Answer–by restoring its women. Which, is why I put so much emphasis on calling women out for their sins and getting them to realize that they have the capacity for great evil, just like men. It may seem common sense, but I do believe a good deal of women live in some sort of bubble where they think they are immune to evil forces. It’s not a fight against women that I engage in, but a fight against sin.I focus more on sin in women, because they hold the key in restoring the society. There is talk that men aren’t doing their part in restoring society because they are refusing to marry ungodly women. One should not marry just the sake of marrying. You first need good stock; good wife material in the culture and that we do not have. Probably only 10% (and that is being generous) or so of women qualify. Women bear the burden of returning themselves to good stock and exhibiting qualities that men will find as an asset. For the 10% who are assets, they end up getting lost amongst all the liabilities. A man finding such a woman is like searching for a needle in a haystack; where the needle is the asset woman and the hay are the women who are liabilities. It’s hard for a man to recognize a needle amongst all the hay. What we need is for all assets to become hay and for the needle to become the liability. The good qualities in the few will not be recognized until the good qualities are in the many. It used to be this way, before feminism spearheaded our cultural decay. In order for men to do their part, women need to first do their part. They can then select a quality women once women en masse make it desirable to do. They will make the waters safe to swim in again. – Laura Grace Robins

Sex is the fundamental archetype for how we view the world. It is an inherently future-looking act, if we continue the means/ends convergence of past times, because it creates the next generation. It also determines how we raise them and thus, what type of people they turn out to be. Our attitude toward sex is our attitude toward society itself, and from that, the values that inform our philosophies.

While an act of male infidelity is as morally wrong as an act of female infidelity, the faithlessness of women is much more destructive on a societal level. It more often leads to the dissolution of marriage in an age of easy divorce. Women, who are the primary initiators of divorce, are more inclined to end a marriage because of their own outside indiscretions than because of the indiscretions of their husbands. This conclusion is confirmed by Michelle Langley’s work and the psychological differences between men and women.

Please note that when I talk about the faithlessness of women, I don’t mean merely their affairs, but also their desire for romantic adventure regardless of whether they have a specific man in mind. For women, marriage is generally meaningless if they are not emotionally involved with their spouse, which in an era of easy divorce and favorable custody laws leads to a great deal of family breakdown. A man is more capable of seeing marriage in terms of an abstract commitment. This is why female adventurism is so much more destructive. A woman wants to leave when her feelings for her spouse are diverted and she is more easily overcome by her feelings to the point of insensitivity toward her children. Also, male infidelities are more likely to be about sexual pleasure, rather than emotional involvement, though of course this is not always true at all.

Women tend to react to their errant sexual desires with more guilt and confusion than men because of the common conviction that women are essentially monogamous. This guilt causes them inner dissonance which often manifests itself as manipulative behavior toward their spouse and leads to the end of a marriage. I have witnessed this a number of times. Many women successfully convince themselves that their decision to leave is caused by the faults of their spouse. There is almost an innocence about their self-deception. They are the creatures of passion. – The Thinking Housewife

When we allow sex to become an end in itself, and not a means toward a sacred end, we destroy female happiness — and, as with other things in the modern time, replace stability with a kind of emptiness and longing. We make ruins of our women and we make men who retreat into oblivion. These ideas then migrate to the rest of society: why have any faithfulness to anyone at all? Be in it all for yourself. Throw that litter on the ground, because these trees aren’t going to pay your electric bill for you. And so on.

If you want to know why conservatives oppose sexual liberation, the sexual revolution and the trivialization of marriage, there you have it: it undoes one of the cornerstones of a society geared not just to lowest common denominator function, but a life where we sacralize existence itself and are able to live better as a result. Beware the snake oil salespeople. When they say “freedom” and talk about fulfilling your desires, remember there is a price to pay, and it may take you a long time to see, and it will be one you will not like at all.

Why conservatism is important

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

I didn’t start out wanting to be a conservative. In fact, quite the opposite — out of a desire to be nice to everyone, avoid war and have a respectful society, I drank the darn Kool-Aid. I was in favor of all things that good college-educated, scientifically-informed, and thoroughly modern people support.

And in retrospect, it was great. It kicked open doors. We were like an insider’s club, where if you said the right passwords, you got to the front of the line. Sometimes it was socialized medicine, usually legal marijuana, but often a host of other issues, starting with race. Yes, starting with race. Much of our liberal dialogue was about race, because our liberal backstory was that we were the Revolution and we were eliminating all threats to perfect equality. Fairness for everyone! And anything else we can give them.

We were not dishonest. It is a mistake to assume all liberals are dishonest. What underlies all liberalism is a form of dishonesty, but it’s not limited to liberalism. Instead of being dishonest, we were merely thinking backward. We saw an ideal situation, and decided we could make that a goal, forgetting that in order to make something happen, you need to think of the step before it and the consequences of it. We didn’t know that. We only knew what sounded good to us, our peers, and our post-1968 professors.

Over time, we became dishonest, and this is where I set down the cup and walked away. You can only chant for legal pot so many times before noticing that 99% of the potheads you know are slovenly and dysfunctional, and that their personalities are slowly being eaten away by the drug. You can only demand racial equality for so long, until the obvious assimilation agenda and incompatible evolutionary curves bug you out. You can talk about class war until you get laid every night of the week (girls — and if you fall for this palaver, you’re not a woman yet — love class war because it’s both beta male resentment of the more powerful, and still a masculine, warlike attitude) but pretty soon even you notice that the trailer parks and ghettoes are full of people whose problems got them there. Backward liberal thinking says they have these problems because they are there; credible investigation shows that they started drinking and then ended up there, or grew up there and had prospects to leave, before they started drinking/drugging/rutting uncontrollably/beating their families/thievin’. I set down the cup and walked away because I noticed a convergence of three tendencies:

  • Backward thinking. We assumed equality, and then were shocked to find things didn’t work out that way, so we invented backstories about oppression and injustice. The painful truth that became obvious is that most people are barely competent to hold a job and pay rent on time, and that they are prone to selfish and oblivious behaviors, like littering and putting themselves into debt buying SUVs.
  • Unworkable solutions. Our mantra was that education and democracy would make everyone equal and put them all into wealthy first-world lifestyles. But who mows the lawns in that scenario? And do we in turn obliterate our competitiveness by promoting people who are incompetent? We can push anyone through a college degree. But it did not solve the problem.
  • False solutions. Even worse, our non-working ideas became the only politically acceptable (a positive term for politically correct) solutions, so we looked no further. Violence, crime, rape, sodomy, drunkenness and incest in the ghettoes? Education! Democracy! No one thought about the more interesting solutions.

So at some point, I had to put down the cup. Our plans did not work. In retrospect, I realized that if the solutions were as simple as we thought they were, problems would have been solved ago. No human agency is so competent that it can covertly control the world for long, so if we think the Freemasons, ZOG, 9/11 Truthers, Obama Birthers and Reptilians are fairy tales, we need to apply the same to the myth that white male oppressors have taken over the world and are hellbent on enslaving every last person of color, or at least forcing them to wash dishes for minimum wage. It’s all horse puckey, every last word of it, and like other backward thinking, it’s not a description of cause to effect logic. Rather, it’s us seizing on what we want to believe is true, and inventing an elaborate lie to make it sound good. Liberalism is paranoia at this level: there must be victims, so there must be an evil controlling force, whether corporations, the white race, the government, organized religion or asphalt. We need there to be an evil entitled oppressor even when the truth is much simpler. Who knew Kool-Aid had such a mentally debilitating aftertaste?

Furthermore, I hadn’t noticed much progress on my pet issue, which was ending the ongoing human destruction of our environment. It wasn’t just that every surface on earth got slowly covered in litter, or that we expanded housing developments in all directions, or that our SUVs and factories polluted the air. No: it was the breakup of natural lands, the slow introduction of thousands of chemicals in unnatural concentrations, the depletion of forests and shattering of ecosystems. After some time, it became clear to me that a twofold solution was needed: (a) stop our population and economies from growing so recklessly, drunk and fat on petrochemical energy; (b) stop our reckless consumerist society of consumption, where any idiot with a desire can rack up credit card debt buying plastic junk, and when they’re done with it, can just pitch it into a trash can. This mass desire drove the worst of our abuses, and our growth encouraged more and more, all at the same time (I noticed) our culture was producing less of any relevance except technology. This desire-driven society is really good with some stuff, but where’s the cure for cancer? The zero point energy? The vat-grown meat, the air scrubbers, all the good stuff? Well, no one is developing that stuff; there’s no incentive as long as we can continue the plunder. When I brought this up to my liberal cohorts, they started talking about democracy and education and birth control, assuming that voluntary incentives would end the problem. I’d ask them to look out the window. Our whole society was voluntary, and people were volunteering to breed like mad, buy plastic and spew toxins all over the environment.

I ended up thinking that if we as a society were serious about the environmental issue, we needed to do something entirely different. We needed a society that could say no. No, you can’t have that SUV; no, you can’t have 11 children; no, you’re a criminal and a pedophile and we don’t want you here, where we have to expend resources to take care of you. Not all that is human is good. My thinking tended toward the kind of statement you find here:

We believe that current problems are largely rooted in the following circumstances:

  • The loss of traditional knowledge, values, and ethics of behavior that celebrate the intrinsic value and sacredness of the natural world and that give the preservation of Nature prime importance. Correspondingly, the assumption of human superiority to other life forms, as if we were granted royalty status over Nature; the idea that Nature is mainly here to serve human will and purpose.
  • The prevailing economic and development paradigms of the modern world, which place primary importance on the values of the market, not on Nature. The conversion of nature to commodity form, the emphasis upon economic growth as a panacea, the industrialization of all activity, from forestry to farming to fishing, even to education and culture; the drive to economic globalization, cultural homogenization, commodity accumulation, urbanization, and human alienation. All of these are fundamentally incompatible with ecological or biological sustainability on a finite Earth.
  • Technology worship and an unlimited faith in the virtues of science; the modern paradigm that technological development is inevitable, invariably good, and to be equated with progress and human destiny. From this, we are left dangerously uncritical, blind to profound problems that technology and science have wrought, and in a state of passivity that confounds democracy.
  • Overpopulation, in both the overdeveloped and the underdeveloped worlds, placing unsustainable burdens upon biodiversity and the human condition.

We believe that values other than market values must be recognized and given importance, and that Nature provides the ultimate measure by which to judge human endeavors. – Deep Ecology Mission Statement

This is why conservatism is important: we are not going to fix our problems with “issues” or “laws.” We cannot fight all the heads of the Hydra; we have to go for the neck. The neck is that our modern life has detached itself from reality and become a popularity contest. Of course we can’t stop ourselves from wrecking nearly everything we touch! We’re drunk with power, gorging on greed, and all we know is what we desire and how others think that we’re “equal” and therefore we have a right to it, consequences be damned. This is what conservatism stands against, this society of faux individualists who think that indulging desire is what individualists do. It’s not. Individualists go off and do it their own way, and do great things. We know those things are great because they make something better. They’re not desires, they’re tasks. Challenges. Risks. Goals. Our society lacks any kind of goal, so we’ve become fat men on the couch who can’t stop eating junk food and changing the channel on TV. We’re disconnected from reality. The only force that can possibly oppose this is the one that pays attention to consequences.

Conservatism conserves things, starting with knowledge of what works and what does not. It is not like liberalism fascinated with anthrocentric means of judging the world, like morality and emotion. It is concerned with function. It compiles the knowledge of human history into a single form that selects for what provides certain universal goods: stable societies, continued human evolution, moral awareness of others and a way of finding contentment in life that is not predicated on some “moral” re-shaping of reality that is under its skin simply human projection. If you want the anti-neurosis, you have to escape backward thinking. Only conservatism with its means-to-ends logic does this.

When I was a liberal, we talked a lot about emotions, new ideas and “progress.” What we did not talk about was whether or not this stuff worked and what effect it would have on the social order. A dozen years later, it was clear to me that none of it worked because none of it was designed to work, and its effect on the social order was to destroy it. Liberalism is not a reform of life, but a power grab and a desire to smash those who are by nature happy, strong, intelligent and good. Why else would it endorse forced equality, a way of making us equal and faceless drones, in a cultureless void? Liberalism is sabotage of the social order so that the unhappy individuals can feel a sense of purpose and moral outrage.

Like all powerful things, civilization’s greatest strength is also its greatness weakness. It makes life easier and provides for us, through economies of scale and specialization of labor, as well as a system of laws and uniform trade, a better life — but one that also cuts us off from reality. Like a lawnmower, it can run away from us if we don’t maintain control of it. Liberalism is that loss of control. We need conservatism because without a functional social order, we are encouraged to become greedy and destructive beings, and then we hate ourselves for our callowness.

Your ideal society

Friday, January 28th, 2011

People defend their “ideas” passive-aggressively because they first had an impulse, and later invented the “idea” to justify what they did. That is why most people have roughly the same ideas, no matter how many layers of artifice they bury them under.

One of their biggest passive aggressive comebacks is to tell you that it’s well and good you criticize, but it’s easy to criticize, and words are just words. What are your actions? What is your positive ideal? We know what you don’t like; what do you like? And if you don’t answer in 30 seconds they smirk as if to say, “I always knew you were a paltry pseudo-intellectual,” which is how smug overeducated and underintelligent moderns say “poseur.”

I call their response passive-aggressive because setting an impossible task before someone is a form of sabotage, a way of making them fail before they even begin. Outlining the society you would like is a huge task and the best most of us are going to do is a laundry list of stuff that sounds suspiciously like the absence of what we don’t like. The hidden implication is of course anything that is not broken can proceed much as it has been, although some conflicts will occur and will have to be negotiated. But try putting that into a single sentence for a snappy comeback.

But it’s a good question: what kind of society would you like? I can only answer for myself.

  • Rule by the smart, not the good-looking. Democracy gives us options, but then, the lowest common denominator rules and convinces us to treat public opinion as reality. The result is neurotic detachment from reality and a society that ignores any problems more distant than immediate. If you want to experience involution, go for a democracy. I’d prefer a meritocratic, hereditary aristocracy based on high intelligence and practical skills together, not simply academic testing.
  • Nature has a voice. Nature is our silent partner in life, producing our oxygen and natural resources, and giving us a pleasant place to live. It is also an intense spiritual symbol and struggle, in that we only feel good about life when we feel we are in sync with our origins. My ideal society would consider natural needs at every step of every decision and build them into our cost structure, instead of imposing them as bureaucratic penalties on the prosperous only.
  • Censorship. I don’t want to live in a place where I am assaulted by constant commercial messages. Businesses can advertise their name and a logo, but that should be it. No giant signs by the freeways, no constant promotional detritus everywhere. End the idea that if you have a square inch of space showing, you should be able to stick a commercial message on it.
  • No estate taxes. If someone becomes prosperous, and wants to keep that in the family, they should. We already know they have brains but if their kids are also smart, they’re going to start from a position of wealth and be more sensitive. Let them keep their wealth and go on to do non-profitable but still vital things. Much of our early scientific research and our best art came from such people.
  • Communities define their own standards, as do states. I like the Confederate model in that it allows California to be liberal while Texas stays arch-conservative; if people in Texas hate it, they can move. This lets people in Texas define the kind of society they want, and California to do the same, without constant infighting. Not every place is good for every person, and they should not “obviously” necessarily be allowed to live there.
  • Ethnic solidarity. I like living near people who are like me. Genetics is a record of the choices our ancestors made, and I want to be people who are near me and compatible with me, and have similar abilities and ideals. Homogenous societies are always the most stable and pleasant, and this condition continues worldwide today, although it’s taboo to notice it. It’s not oppression to tell people they cannot live on 100% of earth’s surface, anywhere they want; like all things in nature, they have their niche and should stick to it.
  • Invert the inverted society. Civilization by its nature operates through politics, or the process of herding together masses of people so they can accomplish a goal. The problem with this is that it is inclusive without caring about who it includes — any warm body’ll do. The result is a degeneration of standards, a dumbing down of discussion on leadership, and a subsidization of many parasitic, predatory and useless people. Instead, I propose a society that rewards its best and conserves them — if the Mongols invade, send the directionless, intoxicated, fat, lazy, stupid and confused out to fight them before we send our best people.
  • Conservation. I don’t believe in green lightbulbs, and the complete stupidity with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that contain toxic mercury and are only marginally more effective proves why. I don’t believe in green products. I believe in recognizing that our nature as humans is to take over whatever land we touch, so we should set aside at least half of the usable land for nature and leave it. Don’t camp on it, don’t use it for concerts, just leave it. This way we get to keep our natural world and our own as well, and this encourages us to be more efficient about land use. Did we really need that second auto parts store?
  • Real education. Educators don’t like to talk about it, but you can tell how far a student can go in the educational system by the student’s IQ. All of our standardized testing is a thinly disguised “IQ correlative” assessment designed to work around this impolitic inequality. Education is great, but most people can be taught to read — not understand what they read. Now that we’ve taught them to read, they’re all out there spouting “intelligent sounding” opinions that under analysis, turn out to be mindless garbage carefully disguised as learned opinion. Educate people to the level they can understand, not the level we can make it appear that they understand.
  • No tail wagging the dog. If Jerry can’t drive, our society says we can’t take his license because he has to get to his job. A sane society looks at the full fact: he is an incompetent driver and does not belong on the road. We can’t save everyone and we make the tail wag the dog each time we say “well, this person is still a person, even if a destructive one.” The way to love humanity is not to love every individual but the best individuals, and to let nature take care of the failures.
  • Have public discussions on our values. We talk politics a lot as if we expect to be able to pass laws that decide our values for us. Take abortion for example: to the left, it’s a banner of sexual liberation; to the right, rejecting this symbol of a hated and destructive force is important. Why not just talk about the values themselves? Do we want a society where promiscuity is acceptable, and to what degree?

People will of course say I’m a dreamer and these things will never come about. That’s what they’re counting on, of course. Once you liberalize and have a revolution, you have nowhere to go but to greater permissiveness and fewer standards held in common or by consensus, eventually rejecting values entirely. That is how your civilization dies. But not all die. The smart remain and they are perfectly OK with finding a strong leader to pull things back together, especially once the utopian anarchy really takes over and so public services fail like dominoes. The reason I speak of such things now is so that those of us who did not gulp down the kool-aid are clear on what we want so that we can stand up among the ruins, move to a new location, and rebuild without the stupid ideas of the past.

Moving away from the subsidy model

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Politics in a democracy is rough because people do not react to anything but immediate problems. If it can be put off, it will be — because solutions cause inconvenience, cost and most of all, uncertainty.

Thanks to our recent world financial crisis, people are re-evaluating their stance on politics. In addition, they’re combining coming crises and seeing a pattern of failure in what we have done in the past.

The resulting pattern is of Europe and the USA switching alignments as they try to un-do what was wrong in the past. The USA, coming out of the George Bush years, drifts more leftward, and Europe coming out of the boom years of the Cold War era and beyond is drifting more rightward.

Each side is re-thinking where it went wrong with its political and economic strategies from WWII to last year.

One interesting leader is Sweden. Steadily Sweden is acknowledging that it is moving away from the facilitative society toward a culturally-unified, competitive one. Facilitative societies have several traits:

  • No unifying culture. There is no us-against-them, but we are all citizens of the world, and anyone can come here. Culture — we don’t need that. You can get that from TV. The goal of society is to provide a place where you can do business.
  • Consumers dictate commerce. Desire-driven societies are facilitative because they do not judge at all what is appropriate, but reward whatever people want to buy or do. It’s like a big American shopping mall where you choose your house, choose your career, your pleasures and your spouse and family decisions.
  • A strong welfare state. Allowing consumers to make any decision they desire means that many of them will screw it up. As a result, government steps in with all sorts of helpful programs that are not so much expensive as they are a drain of money from activity in the economy. When you pay citizens directly, they spend that money on products which are at their final state in the economy. No more value will be added, and they will not produce any greater value.
  • Tail wags the dog. In a facilitative society, there are no standards and no leadership. It’s whatever you the individual want to do. As a result, your society goes from producing objects and services of universal value to making products and services that address the desires of its citizens, without wondering if those are rational beyond its borders.

You can see how facilitative societies quickly become Ponzi schemes of a benevolent sort. You make products to sell to your citizens, so your culture becomes entertainment/design/internet driven. This means people are buying many products with high markup but from whom no further income is generated; this means that wealth goes from your productive citizens to conglomerates who most frequently outsource the hard work and direct their money into closed industries and high profits. They aren’t adding much value in the process of making these goods and services, so that money doesn’t get spread around the economy. It gets concentrated, usually in products like what they make or worse, financial instruments and stocks, which have become like a betting pool for computers to temporarily store wealth in.

If you want a vision of the facilitative society, this commercial expresses it fairly accurately. There are no right choices, only desires, whims and caprices. These in turn don’t make anyone any money, but since it’s all about you the consumer, we don’t think about that — or the opportunities we lose by focusing on selling within our society instead of selling products of broad value.

The facilitative society will always be identified with America because as a melting pot, first of Western Europeans prior to 1840 and later of all Europeans and finally, of all people starting in 1965, the USA has no dominant culture that can be clearly identified. It always had a culture mostly borrowed from the UK and Germany, but that culture wasn’t visible because “USian” is not an ethnic or cultural group. It’s a location. So it was natural for people to treat the USA as a giant shopping mall in which the goal of society was the individual, not cultural standards or goals.

America also faced different revolutions than Europe, which kept it vital for longer. While Europe fought a series of revolutions for the equality of all people and to dismember its aristocracy, starting with the Magna Carta and picking up steam with the French Revolution only to fully explode in WWI, the United States fought a revolution and then a Civil War over how it would rule itself from a strong central authority. Europe went socialist, where America went federalist and stayed capitalist to keep that issue at bay while others were resolved. European socialism was basically a payoff to the unruly proles who murdered many of the best in France. The entitlement payments were designed to keep them pacified and oblivious voters who did not riot or revolt.

As a result, Europeans began to work on the model of socialism to integrate other ideas, especially as the post-WWII period showed us how socialism and communism together had an ugly tendency to fail only after wrecking culture, killing off the smart people, and then starving the rest. Pure socialism could not stand. So modified socialism took on many new forms, and behind the scenes while bigger events played out, European nations have been steadily revising their vision of it.

For many years, foreign policy-makers have pointed to Sweden as a positive model to follow, making Swedes like me proud. Too often, though, foreigners have drawn the wrong lessons from Sweden’s success. For instance, whenever I give a lecture, anywhere in Europe, about economic reform, I always get the following response: “But you come from Sweden, which is socialist and successful—why should we launch free-market policies ?”

The simple truth is that Sweden is not socialist. According to the World Values Survey and other similar studies, Sweden combines one of the highest degrees of individualism in the world, solid trust in well-functioning institutions, and a high degree of social cohesion. Among the 160 countries studied in the Index of Economic Freedom, Sweden ranks 21st, and is one of the few countries that increased its economic freedoms during the financial crisis. Sweden gets higher scores for liberal markets than Germany and Belgium, or reformers such as Cyprus and Georgia.

It’s true that Sweden wasn’t always so free. But Sweden’s socialism lasted only for a couple of decades, roughly during the 1970s and 1980s. And as it happens, these decades mark the only break in the modern Swedish success story. – WSJ

We hear about the Swedish model because in the 1960s and 1970s, an indignant Europe rebelled against its occupying force — the Americans (a form of resentment at the necessary sense of obligation for the US keeping the Russians and Germans at bay). As the writer above says:

But Socialism was fashionable in post-War Europe and Sweden was not immune.

Sweden as the land of intellectuals and idealists is most susceptible to trendy ideas, especially insane ones, because smart people when confronted with an insane idea tend to chew it over, often for decades. They get curious and have to try it out. And if that ideal appeals to their emotional side, like promising some kind of Utopia or another, they’re doubly likely to give in. This explains why the fairest nations of Europe are the first to indulge in whatever decadent trend drifts through their newspapers, and Sweden is slowly recovering from the last bout of that memetic infection.

Yet Sweden is not the only place. Germany has figured out that if it doesn’t get away from a subsidy model, it will soon replace itself with people who come to take advantage of its economic miracle, and they will likely kill the goose that laid the golden eggs. All of the wealthy nations in Europe are finding out that pan-European socialism is going to mean a steady flow of Western European wealth to the chronic disaster states of Southern and Eastern Europe, who are impoverished not from a lack of resources but from a persistent pattern of corruption, disorganization and instability, not to mention lower average IQ scores.

As a result, Europe is reconsidering the American model at the same time the Americans are flirting with socialism, hoping that they can buy off the surly mob of drones by paying them entitlements, through racial reconciliation in the form of guilt payments, and finally, by doing what is popular instead of what we know to be rational. The American model is crumbling under the pressures of democracy, and for added humor, oftentimes it is being urged to this state by people who are citing the European model as proof the nu-American socialist model will succeed.

Yet cracks show in the plan:

If you count the “Part time employed for non-economic reasons”, you get 126.8 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, working part time or “Not in the labor force”. That represents 53% of working age Americans.

So only 47% of working age Americans have full time jobs. While the official unemployment rate is 9.4%. Something’s missing somewhere.

43.2 million Americans receive foodstamps. That’s 18.1% of all working age Americans. If they all have on average 1.5 dependents, which is probably a reasonable estimate, a full one third of the US population receives at least part of their food through this system. – Business Insider

America is focusing on what failed in the European socialist model, which is a transfer of wealth from where more wealth can be made to areas where no more wealth will be made. Products in the supermarket are at their highest state of value. People are not buying stocks or tools with food stamps; they’re throwing money into established businesses that then do not spread that wealth around, at least in the USA. In fact, they’d be insane not to outsource to some place without a subsidy-based facilitative economy, so that their wealth can go farther.

As a result, we’re seeing this kind of pattern:

Employment prospects for young people have been particularly hard hit by the economic downturn, with data last week showing that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work reached 951,000 giving a rate of 20.3% — the highest since records began in 1992.

The unemployment rate for the wider U.K. population stands at 7.9%. – WSJ

If you spread the money too thin, and try to get every person into an office job, you will attract more people and be popular — but this is unsustainable.

This is why conservatives tend to oppose big government. Big government subsidizes people on the basis of being people, so it reverses evolution and supports the clueless at the expense of those who can control themselves. The result is a swelling of the population of confused people and an increasing burden for the productive. The spreading of wealth means that we are a “meritocracy” that promotes people for trivial abilities and pays them higher salaries, but they’re not doing anything productive because their roles are so clearly defined within the system. They work a job, not work toward a goal, and they know that a safety net of regulations is in place to keep them from being fired. There are too many union rules, lawsuits, regulations, etc. to keep employers from simply firing the incompetents and keeping the most competent. So more people have jobs, and those jobs pay more, but the value of the economy declines as it becomes bloated, calcified and filled with incompetents.

Usury — a favorite target of Traditionalists — makes the situation even worse. The clueless among us do not fear high interest payments because they have no idea of the consequences those will bring. As a result, they take on huge debt loads and get the education, certification, etc. that they need, but aren’t particularly competent or even realistic. Yet we have to hire them and promote them, because according to our “meritocracy” they have “worked hard” to achieve “results.” The bloat explodes. All of these new confused people then rush off to buy homes, cars and luxuries with their newfound credit, creating a giant ticking time bomb of a credit bubble, which encourages our economy to further become based on re-financialization, or the buying and selling of paper instruments including debt, in lieu of actual productive activity.

We didn’t stumble down this bad path from bad intentions. Wanting everyone to be happy is a good intention. Wanting them to be happy without worrying about whether they’re competent however creates a society of parasites and leeches who then drain the economy of its blood, destroy the culture of the nation, and make a once-prosperous country into a giant shopping mall that thinks it has a health economy because it keeps selling itself stuff and wow, look at all the cool entertainment products and useful web 2.0 services we have. This is why recessions like the recent one come “out of the blue” but not really; the market is adjusting to our new worthless value.

Conservatism takes no stand that is not rational, but unlike liberalism, conservatism is about the long term, or avoiding problems that may be centuries away instead of a pay period away. Most people cannot understand this, and so they prefer the subsidy model, which democracy steadfastly encourages. But we are seeing changes as a convergence of systemic failures encourage re-thinking of a society based on individual desire.

From the first article:

Sweden combines one of the highest degrees of individualism in the world, solid trust in well-functioning institutions, and a high degree of social cohesion.

Leaving aside the questionable assessment of “individualism,” which probably refers more to the ability of the individual to act without others rather than the tendency of the individual to prioritize their own desires above all others, we can see what the article cites at work: trust in well-functioning institutions and social cohesion. The rule of law and the rule of culture, put together, are a more effective guide to national success than all the subsidized shopping malls in the world.

The SUV paradox

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Political symbolism strikes chaotically, like a form of lightning that lifts objects up from earth, makes them represent an issue that divides us, and then form a part of our vocabulary.

In the future we will see a political symbol that will be like the humble SUV. For those of you who live in caves, an SUV is a “sport utility vehicle” which is a politically convenient term for a truck with its bed enclosed and doors added so it can be a consumer-level vehicle.

SUVs are divisive because they are not necessary in the strictest sense of the word. While putting your loved ones in a tank is tempting as a precaution against injury or death in a collision, SUVs eat up fuel and intimidate smaller cars on the road. In addition, they’re hard to drive, and by definition the most vulnerable drivers are often the least road-savvy, meaning that many SUV drivers are the least likely to be able to handle the cumbersome monsters.

Among those on the right, SUVs divide us between two principles:

individualist consequentialist

I should be able to drive whatever I want to/can afford to.

The extreme libertarian or individualist view is that individual freedom and choice are the most important in a society, therefore if an individual chooses to drive an SUV and can pay for it, they should not be restricted by the state.

Choices that cause bad consequences should be limited.

No matter how far away those consequences, individual choices that have impact on others or on a collective (a specific society; a specific locality; all humankind; all humankind and all nature) should be limited because they are not a choice of the individual alone, but of the society, since the impact is broader than the individual.

You can see immediately why this is divisive: the right is a “big tent,” or broad spectrum of political views, in which most believe government intervention is the least desirable outcome, and in which many believe in absolute individual liberty.

Depending on what you believe, you will come down harder on one of the two sides. There are truths to both.

  • On the individualist side, we can say that (a) government/bureaucracy screws up just about everything it touches, raising costs greatly for minimal effects and (b) if the goal of our society is freedom, we shouldn’t limit that for citizens who are not doing something immediately destructive.
  • On the consequentialist side, we can say that (a) SUVs make the road more hostile and (b) SUVs are an unnecessary and excessive use of resources and source of pollution. If the goal of our society is to avoid bad consequences, allowing SUVs is not a good idea.

Those who prioritize environmental issues above all else will come down hard on the consequentialist side, presuming that they agree the damage done by SUVs is significant. The idea that SUV damage is significant may be an illusion; cargo ships eat more fuel, and manufacturing of smaller consumer goods that are more widely sold, including disposables like plastic water bottles, may consume more resources and produce more pollution. Barring those two possibilities, our inclination is to say that since SUVs are not necessary, and they do create excess of resource consumption and pollution, it’s fair to limit them.

But this divides the right against itself, because for each tree-hugging crunchy conservative, there’s a libertarian or paleoconservative who believes that freedom as defined in the Constitution should be absolute and we should not limit it if at all possible. Further, they add, if we go down that slippery slope, soon we’ll have to ban other things, like disposable water bottles, until we get to a ludicrous society where you cannot own a disposable lighter and must recycle toilet paper with a hand-cranked device made out of bamboo and clay.

The SUV is as mentioned above merely a political symbol. That means there are many other conflicts like this, and each has significant validity to both sides. But the right limits itself by not taking a clear ideological stand on the issue which these symbols reference. Do we want pure individual liberty, or does consequentialism come first?

In my mind, with the convergence of disasters created by the industrial revolution and the rapid expansion of both human population and the demands of individuals, conservatism is about to tend toward the consequentialist side. It does not right now because pointing out how the left wants a “soft Soviet” style Nanny State — and have created one, with welfare and political correctness and a host of other ill-advised programs — is such great political ammunition. Thinking past the next election cycle however, we see how this issue won’t go away, and trying to avoid it makes us look like fools.

The idea of “liberty” as in libertarianism and classical liberalism is itself an outgrowth of the liberal intellectual revolution that rocked Europe before the American colonies were founded. When Protestantism fractured the Catholic church, and kings were made to serve parliaments, liberalism became a value in Europe so pervasive that most European states are heavily socialistic even today. However, socialism destroys the power of nations by spreading its wealth inclusively, preventing it from being concentrated and applied to more wealth, and even worse throws out quality of population as a consideration. Equality, liberty and fraternity are liberal values, not conservative ones.

On the other hand, conservatives conserve. This is why we and not the left should be taking the lead in environmental issues. Our goal is not to promote individual equality, because we know that’s at odds with nature and common sense, but to conserve social institutions, culture and lands. Such a viewpoint is necessarily consequentialist because we have a goal; the liberal goal, defense of individual equality, is more of a reaction that an attainable goal for which they strive. To make it into a goal presupposes a Utopia so idealistic that we can only compare it to blindly devotional religious sects and Communism. If we are consequentialists, and we conserve things including the environment, we cannot take ourselves seriously if we think any action that has unnecessary long-term consequences should be tolerated.

Of course, that viewpoint is unpopular. Most people are unaware of the scope of the issue and so detest any legislation that limits what they possibly can do. They feel this way for the same reason that they buy lottery tickets: even if they don’t intend to buy an SUV, they feel really good that they could rush out and get one if the whim hit them. There’s a sense of power and “freedom” in that, even if it has no basis in likely reality.

However, as these modern long-term disasters converge and we find ourselves facing a world of less wealth, with more instability and nuclear proliferation, in addition to environmental consequences caused by our expansion to all but a few areas of earth, conservatives are going to find themselves facing this political question again: individualism or consequentialism? Pick the first, and you drift steadily toward liberalism and lose what makes your side distinct. Pick the latter and you can no longer promise “liberty” to everyone while ignoring the destructive consequences of their actions.

Perhaps we should just be honest with ourselves and consider consequentialism to be a form of maturity, meaning that we’ve left behind the reactionary demand for absolute individual equality, freedom/liberty and consumerist-style purchasing free will. In doing so, we would be sacrificing a host of symbols that have proven themselves empty, and instead, begun the process of in earnest conserving our world and enabling ourselves to make goal-oriented decisions again.

Gender roles: adaptivity, not control

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Two of my personal favorite blogs, The Thinking Housewife and The Spearhead, hit on the same idea this week. What is exceptional is that they approach it from opposite angles: traditional Christianity and the Men’s Rights movement.

Thanks to Nietzsche, modern people of a certain intelligence and above cannot look at morality without thinking that it is a control mechanism whereby the herd (undifferentiated, unexceptional people) attempt to control the exceptional so that the exceptional do not inconvenience anyone else with their designs of a better society. The unexceptional desire consistency and, as Plato said, their pleasures necessarily coming before any form of long-term thinking. The exceptional want to organize, impose social order, and strive toward goals. The two are incompatible which is why class war is a necessary condition in every society; you might blame the Dunning-Kruger effect, saying that the proles just don’t understand what the exceptional are thinking and so oppose it out of inertia and ignorance.

Laura Wood at The Thinking Housewife does her best to bring our Nietzschean pragmatic logic, a Darwin-inspired form of adaptive behavior, into line with traditional Christian moral thinking, in which the goal is not so much morality relative to other humans, but to a sense of divine order or God (you can believe in this without dualism, if you wish; replace “God” with “nature” or “fractals” or even LSD if you must).

Traditional sex roles have to do with both morality and survival. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Society has changed culturally and materially in the last half century, but one thing is no different. Human nature is the same. Child development has not changed at all. The evolution of mind and body over the course of the first 18 years of the individual’s life follows essentially the same path it has followed for many thousands of years. The basic psychology of male and female also has not changed.

Regardless of what has caused the abandonment of traditional sex roles, there is no question it is harmful to society at large.

From 1976 to 1997, the percent of U.S. mothers with children under 18 who worked full-time and year-round increased from 20 to 42 percent. Between 1970 and 1994, child welfare declined staggeringly. Rates of infant mortality, child abuse, child poverty, teen suicide, high school dropouts, and youth crime all rose by levels that Harvard professor Richard Gill, in his book Posterity Lost, called stunning. That doesn’t mean that in every home where mothers are working, these things exist. It means that on a societal level, the abandonment of traditional sex roles has harmed child welfare dramatically. The number of children unattended at home after school rose from 1.6 million in 1976 to 12 million in 1994. Illegitimacy rates are almost thirty times what they were for whites in 1960. (This figure is affected by the decline in fertility of married women, but it is still astronomically higher without this factor.) Divorce rates since the early 1970s, when no-fault divorce laws were instituted in nearly every state, have skyrocketed too and divorce is proven to have negative consequences for many offspring well into adulthood.

During that same period, the incidence of drug use, sexual experimentation and delinquency among adolescents in affluent families rose significantly, according to Brian Robertson in his book Forced Labor. Studies have shown that these are all more common in homes where parents are absent during the day. School shootings were virtually unknown in the 1950s and 60s. – The Thinking Housewife

How could that be? In gender roles, we have party A (the man) and party B (the woman). When they’re equal, there should be no conflict, we think. But we are only looking at causes, or the actions we take, not their effects. Effects are wider-ranging, starting with the point that we cut out party C — the one we always forget — who is not only non-human, but can be a number of roughly parallel actors: God, divine order, Darwinian order, pragmatism. When you think about it, no sane religious person separates God from nature and thus Darwinism, as these are the mechanism of God, so we can conflate these factors.

Party C may be the most important party. The marriage itself; the purpose of family; the orientation of society toward family. When you remove party C and have party A and B in some kind of conflict, there is no glue to hold them together, so they drift apart and we entirely lose the sense that they work together at all. Family becomes optional. Love becomes convenience. And at first, this sounds like a good thing. Greater individual freedom! No obligations! Do whatever you want, and the sex is free. But — and there’s always a but — the problem is that family is the fundamental unit of our social order, and by sacrificing it, we put A and B into a social situation where they are vulnerable and have no necessary source of help (except government of course, which is of dubious value unless you want to spend the rest of your life a nobody in the ghetto collecting checks).

Here is where W.F. Price chimes in with the missing part of the puzzle. He writes about Laura Ingalls Wilder, of “Little House on the Prairie” fame, who grew up on the frontier, married a good man and then had to watch as he was nearly crippled by a debilitating disease. The couple struggled for the next two decades and were able to finally gain a measure of financial independence, after much hardship, and not only keep their family together but have a reasonable middle class life. Price writes:

For his part, Almanzo was fortunate to have a wife like Laura. But then again, he was far from alone in this blessing. She did what any man of the time would have expected of a wife. Certainly, Almanzo had no intention of falling ill and spiraling into debt in the first few years of marriage, but these things happen, and rather than guilt, he felt more appreciation for the sacrifices his wife made, and as soon as he was able he pulled the family back up from the skids. In the beginning of his marriage, Almanzo “failed” in a many ways. Because they rarely spoke about intimate matters in those days, we can only imagine the frustration and sorrow the young family faced during those hard times. From the evidence, all we can see is that they overcame it together. The young couple must have taken their wedding vows seriously — what an odd concept!

Today, despite the huge increase in comfort and prosperity, a young couple like the Wilders in their first few years of marriage would be out of luck. Preachers would be hollering at Almanzo that he “isn’t a real man” because his wife has to work to support him (oddly, preachers seem to think telling their female congregants that their husbands are losers will prevent divorce — are they stupid, or evil for that?), Laura’s friends would all be telling her to dump the loser and move on as a single mother, and even her parents might do their best to shove them apart. Laura probably would have divorced Almanzo to live an unfulfilling life as a single mother and schoolteacher, and Almanzo would have a diminished life as a noncustodial parent working lousy jobs just to pay his child support and keep himself fed and clothed — he’d certainly have no motivation to do any more. All that potential the couple had would be squandered by the combined onslaught of social conservative and feminist man-blaming, which is really nothing more than social pressure pushing women away from constructive family roles as wives and mothers. And of course, if it all finally turned out to be a big tragedy for the young family, all the righteous types would smirk and say “see, it really is your fault Almanzo, because you are an inferior man, and didn’t deserve Laura.” Then they would set about “changing” men to make them better, because something must be wrong with men for this to be such a common occurrence. – The Spearhead

We either stand together or we fall together, as the saying goes. With a family unit, party A and party B have something to fall back on that is stronger than either member. Even more, they have an expected social path into which they can go and thus expect support from the community, because when the family is the granular element in a community, it becomes essential to preserve for all involved. With that kind of invisible Party C in place, the type of social order that groups men and women together to sustain each other, people are less “free” to flake out and bail out — but as a result, they are stronger and can thrive where alone they would have too much going against them.

Through this example, we see how gender roles are not slavery, but a method of adapting to our environment — but since we’re talking about long-term consequences, it’s an “invisible” environment, a party C like social order or God that we cannot see but whose consequences we will feel. Our conventional mythos that gender roles are a method of control makes little sense, since without them, we are better subjects for control by economic forces and government regulation. Could it be that our controllers found an easy way to lure us into something labeled “freedom” that was in fact a form of slavery?

Sexual liberation is a devil’s bargain in that it sounds good, like anything with the words “freedom” and “fun” attached would. However, it doubles the work force, thus halving what any one person can expect in actual value (purchasing power, regardless of dollar amounts). It reduces people to individuals who then have no help and must run their households themselves, which is good for landlords — they won’t be affording homes in most cases, and they won’t have much free time or time to take on that second job and get over a hump. Instead, they are slaves to themselves. And that is the devil’s laughter wherever sexual “liberation” is spoken of.

Spread too thin

Monday, January 24th, 2011

How do you destroy a powerful thing? The death of a thousand cuts: quietly drain away what it needs to be healthy.

If you want to do it without dying, you need to subvert it from within. Take its most precious value, twist it, and re-direct the energy from productive activity to unproductive.

Take for example the modern West. Our founding belief is that we reward those who do well. Deconstructed, this becomes a belief that the best things are not done for pay, therefore we should spread our wealth around so everyone is rewarded.

That way, others tell us, no one has reason to be discontented. Everyone has a reward. Everyone is equal, and without friction, we’re safe. We have a new Utopia.

Thinking of this nature led us off to war in WWI which, unresolved, festered for another two decades and then exploded in WWII. We were fighting the War to End All Wars, a continuation of the 1789 French revolution sentiment that nations were the problem, and we needed a new order. An international order, where there was no ethnicity, and no allegiances. We would replace all of that with a political order where everyone was equal and the wealth got spread around.

What a pleasant vision! Few stopped to think that if it was that easy, it would have happened centuries ago. We were too busy inventing enemies who opposed this vision, starting with the kings and then the big empires like the Ottoman Empire and the German federation. We wanted to believe in this vision so badly that we demonized anyone who didn’t explicitly agree with it.

The battle lines thus drawn, the West — Europe and America — began to deconstruct themselves. They spread their wealth to the granular level of the individual, and the individual then managed to transfer that wealth to economic dead-ends. They spent it on products which would make no one any further money: entertainment, booze, luxuries. These had their value added already and did nothing but depreciate.

To avoid the crisis this provoked, we created bubbles. Like the housing bubble, each consisted of us agreeing (internally) that we were truly ahead of everyone else, and we could sell each other stuff while marking it up along the way, and somehow extract “profit” from this even though no new wealth was created. It was all on paper, based on the value of our economies. Conveniently, it was our own news sources and academics who agreed on this, and each got a piece of the pie.

As with all things historical, it took a long time for this action to be mated with the full list of its consequences. With WWII over, we created a bubble in providing products for our citizens; next, we created a defense bubble, then a housing bubble, then a technology bubble. Our inflated values skyrocketed. But did they actually gain value?

Under the Länderfinanzausgleich – or state financial equalization – rules, state revenue from sales tax and parts of income and corporate tax, are used to redistribute money to smooth out differences between the nation’s richer and poorer states. Federal government grants are also used for the same purpose.

But the governments of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse, all net payers, decided at a joint cabinet meeting in Stuttgart on Monday to commission a legal challenge, which they would use to pressure other states towards a compromise.

They want an overhaul of the equalization system, under which the richer and more powerful states help the economically weaker ones. Among other complaints, they argue that the system gives recipient states no incentive to be fiscally disciplined. – The Local

The principle of spreading wealth thin is that we take from those who do better, give equally to everyone, and thus avoid conflict. But instead, we may be sacrificing our competitiveness, because this means that we no longer concentrate wealth with those who are most capable of using it to produce more wealth.

Instead, we have concentrated our wealth in the broadest mass of people, in which a lowest common denominator reigns supreme, so that our actions are “popular.” But there’s a catch: they’re only popular in our countries, and generally among people who have no influence on our future. We’re buying ourselves off.

Perry also designated for quick approval in the state legislative session that started Jan. 11, a crackdown on “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants, stronger property-owner rights, tighter voter identification requirements at the polls and a resolution directed to the U.S. Congress to pass a balanced-budget amendment, the American-Statesman reported.

Democrats, however, said in focusing on these issues, Perry is trying to shift attention from news that the state is $27 billion short of the money needed for government services over the next two years. – UPI

Why is it American states are going bankrupt? They focused on social expenditure, or spreading of wealth, and not on concentrating that wealth in areas where more would occur. Their budgets ballooned and, in the name of whatever the voters thought sounded pleasing, they chased impractical ideas that looked good on the news. The same happens in Europe.

The Daily Telegraph disclosed last week that the public sector alone will be forced to spend £30 million each year on new equality audits that include asking staff sensitive questions about their religion and sexuality.

An investigation into the implications of the new law revealed that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs paid consultants £100,000 to produce a report on how groups such as the Chinese, homosexuals and Welsh speakers could be affected by efforts to boost Britain’s coastal fish stocks.

The Department for Transport issued a study this month into harassment and discrimination against groups such as transsexuals on ships and hovercraft. – The Telegraph

This isn’t just a travesty; it’s high comedy. Texas is drowning in debt in part because its public services are under assault by legions of illegal aliens. Europe is experiencing the same with its immigration. When you spread the wealth equally, you stop wanting qualified citizens. You import anyone who does cheap labor, and you use them cruelly. In turn, you replace your population with a dependent one, and you drain your wealth to them at the same time you exploit them.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich released new statistics this week showing social spending for those families in his county rose to $53 million in November, putting the county government on track to spend more than $600 million on related costs for the year — up from $570 million in 2009.

Antonovich arrived at the estimate by factoring in the cost of food stamps and welfare-style benefits through a state program known as CalWORKS. Combined with public safety costs and health care costs, the official claimed the “total cost for illegal immigrants to county taxpayers” was more than $1.6 billion in 2010.

“Not including the hundreds of millions of dollars for education,” he said in a statement. – Fox

When America was a land of immigrants, it was a land of people who took risks. They left Europe, came here, and built a new land. The trials they faced were a far cry from the ease of boarding a plane, or even a leaky boat, and arriving here to work as unskilled labor. The original Americans did not demand government handouts; they were happy enough with an equitable situation, meaning one in which they could make something of it, not one in which the wealth was spread equally. After all, they were escaping a Europe which was increasing fanatical about spreading its own wealth, a tradition which continues to the present time where unskilled laborers make a good wage, but as a result costs for any activity are high, and the nations are further paralyzed by Nanny State bureaucracies who waste their money and tie them down with regulations.

That’s what happens when you go from reward-the-good to spread-the-wealth. It also does something to your spirit:

Thomas L Friedman is a three times Pulitzer Prize winner who writes for the New York Times.

He is worried – just like George and Bruce Springsteen – about the decline of something Americans used to champion, the nation’s working class.

“What’s most unsettling about China to Americans is not their communism, it’s the capitalism,” he said as we chatted in his kitchen.

“We see in China things we used to see in ourselves: can-do, get it done, hard work, sacrifice, ‘own the future’.

“That used to be us, and now we see it in them.” – BBC

Unlike the dying West, the Chinese are not fascinated by how much they can sell stuff to themselves. They are interested in conquering new ground, ground that’s old hat for the West but still, a source of growth and replenishment. Their goal, although crude, is a goal; the West has lost touch with anything but itself, and has make itself into an echo chamber in which the “popular” ideas are rewarded, creating a new elite of people who are not competent so much as have the right opinions, know the right social codes, and can flatter others and come up with popular ideas. Popular, in the West disconnected from reality.

How much does inequality matter? A lot, say Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, the authors of “The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone”. Their book caused a stir in Britain by showing, with copious graphs and statistics, that inequality is associated with all manner of social ills. After comparing various unequal countries and American states with more equal ones, the authors concluded that greater inequality leads to more crime, higher infant mortality, fatter citizens, shorter lives, more teenage pregnancies, more discrimination against women and so on. They even found that more equal countries are more innovative, as measured by patents earned per person.

As technology advances, the rewards to cleverness increase. Computers have hugely increased the availability of information, raising the demand for those sharp enough to make sense of it. In 1991 the average wage for a male American worker with a bachelor’s degree was 2.5 times that of a high-school drop-out; now the ratio is 3. Cognitive skills are at a premium, and they are unevenly distributed.

Parents who graduated from university are far more likely than non-graduates to raise children who also earn degrees. This is true in all countries, but more so in America and France than in Israel, Finland or South Korea, according to the OECD. Nature, nurture and politics all play a part. – Economist

A new cognitive elite, really? Then we’d better make sure we’re handing out those university degrees on the basis of skill and not as rewards for repeating the right dogma, or knowing how to do trivial tasks well. We have to make sure we’re not an echo chamber rewarding its own echoes. Are we? Well…

I have, however, become increasingly concerned in recent years – not about the talent of the applicants but about the education American universities are providing. Even from America’s great liberal arts colleges, transcripts reflect an undergraduate specialization that would have been unthinkably narrow just a generation ago.

As a result, high-achieving students seem less able to grapple with issues that require them to think across disciplines or reflect on difficult questions about what matters and why.

Unlike many graduate fellowships, the Rhodes seeks leaders who will “fight the world’s fight.” They must be more than mere bookworms. We are looking for students who wonder, students who are reading widely, students of passion who are driven to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the broader world through enlightened and effective leadership. The undergraduate education they are receiving seems less and less suited to that purpose.

An outstanding biochemistry major wants to be a doctor and supports the president’s health-care bill but doesn’t really know why. A student who started a chapter of Global Zero at his university hasn’t really thought about whether a world in which great powers have divested themselves of nuclear weapons would be more stable or less so, or whether nuclear deterrence can ever be moral. A young service academy cadet who is likely to be serving in a war zone within the year believes there are things worth dying for but doesn’t seem to have thought much about what is worth killing for. A student who wants to study comparative government doesn’t seem to know much about the important features and limitations of America’s Constitution. – Washington Post

Generation X saw this disaster coming in the 1980s. As the Baby Boomers surged through the system, we saw a rise in standardized testing and rigorous application processes in order to weed the motivated from the amotivated. But in the process, we lost something. We lost the wildcatters who aren’t motivated by standardized tests, uniform education, and repeating the right dogma. We lost the free thinkers, and with it, our will to surpass our past. Instead, we focused on finding people who fit into what we already had. This is why the kind of trivial thinking detailed in the above article is rewarded, and why we have become even more of an echo chamber. The chamber finds more people who fit into it, instead of picking people who will make the best of any situation. This stagnant, solipsistic and moribund outlook explains the lack of American competitiveness: we have selected for people who work the system, not work the job or grasp the problems not delineated in official documents.

Our newer generations have no idea. They have grown up in the system, and trusted its education, because the dogma it teaches matches what they hear from rock stars and entertainers. They believe that they sound more intelligent for repeating such things, even though if they could think critically (they cannot, with a few exceptions) they would see that the root of all this dogma is the same idea that propelled the revolution in France: spread the wealth, and nobody gets hurt.

It sounds good except that we kill the goose that laid the golden egg. We sacrifice our ability to compete, reward the mediocre and frustrate the exceptional and creative. We make a world that is one-size-fits-all, ruled by bureaucrats and other inflexiable and stultifying idiots, all while convincing ourselves we’re more “compassionate” out of a desire to be popular. We please ourselves, and disconnect from reality.

As we watch the Tea Parties in America and the New Right in Europe get to their feet, we are seeing the counterreaction to a disaster that began with the French Revolution. Spreading the wealth is not progressive or wise, it’s suicide. It destroys our belief in a future and leaves us open to be replaced by those who have a goal outside of narcissism, even if a crude one. This death of a thousand cuts won’t even get us martyrdom status, because we did it to ourselves from a lack of more interesting ideas.

The Multicultural Mystique by Harriet E. Baber

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

The Multicultural Mystique: The Liberal Case Against Diversity
by Harriet E. Baber
Prometheus Books, 246 pages, $27.

This book caught my eye because it contains some of the most insightful and honest critique of multiculturalism I have ever read. On the other hand, its “solution” is to remove culture from the picture entirely, which is so brain-dead I have trouble respecting the book.

Onward to the good, however: this book gives us a working definition of each type of multiculturalism, albeit with hokey postmodern-style metaphors. The kind the author rails against is “salad bowl” multiculturalism, where members of different ethnic groups move to a new land and then stay segregated by ethnicity. The kind the author endorses is assimilation, or everyone giving up on their source culture and joining the new culture. Difficulty: the author admits that such a culture doesn’t exist, and just about goes far enough to admit that diversity kills it, but then launches on a praiseful tirade in favor of individualism and having no higher cultural goals.

The justification used for this course of action comes right out of the early 1990s. Baber distinguishes between “salient,” or components of our social identity, and non-salient attributes to individuals, like ethnicity. No attempt is made to address populations as organic wholes; in fact, that heresy against deconstruction is considered outside the realm of intelligent discourse. Her point is that majority cultures like indigenous whites in Europe and America do not have to notice their race (you can find this sentiment in any publication on “white privilege”) but that anyone else must.

For white Americans, ethnic identification is largely a matter of choice, since whiteness in the United States and Europe is nonsalient and, as it were, transparent. This is, indeed, the fundamental characteristic of “white privilege”: to be white is, in an important sense, to lack racial identity, to be “just regular” as regards race. (10)

At this point, her liberal thinking takes a turn toward the semi-Randian. Having expectations of culture imposed upon you, she says, limits your ability to be individualistic and to make individualistic choices because your ethnic group will enforce them upon you and if they don’t, society at large will project them on you. She uses delightful examples like overachieving black kids getting dinged for “acting white,” or clueless white people politely asking random black people to explain Kwanzaa.

However, ultimately her solution is a dumbed-down modern form of colonialism: import the people to your country, integrate them into your culture, and in a few generations they will have lost whatever origins they had. It is colonial because as she frequency points out, non-majority-ish populations get imported as cheap labor, with the hope and guess that they will depart when the wages go:

The worry that mass immigration will make receiving countries “too diverse” or that it will “thin out” their cultures is a sham. The fear is that immigrants will not remain sufficiently “diverse” to accept second-class jobs, do harsh jobs for low pay, and conveniently disappear when their labor is not needed. (233)

This passage shows the book in microcosm: insightful analysis that reveals the attitudes of Americans toward their imported diverse labor pool, coupled with editorializing that considers a few out of the many factors and plays fast and loose with the concept of ethnicity in contrast to culture.

Profundity and the same old boilerplate wrapped together in an easy package? It’s kind of like honor students who own that one Iron Maiden album so they can, you know, let loose and walk on the wild side every tenth Saturday night. If you write for the liberal establishment, you have to smother any dose of shock with a heaping helping of familiar territory.

Another example:

The relevant moral questions are: to what extent does the cultural self-affirmation of some members of a group have consequences for other members of the group and are those consequences so significant as to override rights to free speech, religious freedom, and self-expression? These rights are not absolute. (165)

Baber hones in on the central issue of modern time, which is whether our individualism is absolute, and comes down in favor of the absolute — without presenting an argument for it. Assumptions exist, and personal histories, but we’re not seeing a cause-effect reason for these assumptions. However, the question needed to be asked, and it’s better in print from a liberal source than from a conservative one which would immediately be dismissed by anyone left of center.

In this chapter, I also address the important question, rarely discussed, of when, if ever, ethnic diversity ends. Do multiculturalists imagine that the salad bowl is forever and that ethnic minorities will maintain distinct cultural identities in perpetuity without coalescing? It is hard to see how such an arrangement could be maintained without the establishment of a virtual millet system of semiautonomous communities maintaining their own schools, institutions, and, perhaps, systems of personal law with the approval and support of the state. (11)

These are very important questions. Baber does not ask what happens when the “majority” population the United States and Europe is in fact worldwide a minority population, and a wealthy one, which means that many more of them want to move here than there are members of the “majority” group. Do they get bred out? Do they have a right to exist as well? You won’t find that in this book.

The Multicultural Mystique may be fun because it is such a mixed bag. Baber brings up the important issues; she then explains them away with stock-in-trade liberal platitudes. Because the liberal modus operandi is to take an individualist position, and passive aggressively react to any assertion of a different viewpoint as if it were straight out of a hostile nation’s propaganda broadcast, she does what most political writers tend to do, which is cherry-pick sources. Why consider multiple factors, when there’s one you need? Why mention the breadth of an issue, when you can take data out of context and imply its relevance? A good deal of the arguments in this book conclude with her asserting an example that might support them, and as if that proof were evident, ending the paragraph.

In style, the book resembles much of the other popular literature from our philosophy departments. Its strength is that it makes its points clearly; its weakness is that it deconstructs so much that the entire document is not a strawman attack, but a strawman discussion, with theoretical beings existing in vacuums without time, place or context batting each other around using absolute concepts like individual rights. Much of it reeks of a lonely white woman alone in a Starbuck’s, writing from a stack of The Atlantic magazines and what she can find with Google, and not bothering to edit for circularity. Around we go again and again; fifty to a hundred pages could have dropped from this book with no loss in meaning.

For all of its faults and biases, however, The Multicultural Mystique won me over because it kicks open the door on several important issues: Assimilate or respect culture? We know this path will destroy culture and replace it with individual desire, right? No one is thinking past the immediate; most people who support diversity do so for low-cost lawn care and social identity points. And last but not least, what is the goal here? Do we want culture, or not, and if not, why? Many of these questions arise from the reading of the book and are not embedded in it, which makes it doubly impressive as a conversation starter.

Your average person will not find this book compelling because it is, without exception, and indulgently so, written in the “philosophical” style of lots of flavor-words for concepts, plenty of comma-separated phrases, with allusions to terms trending in academia. However, for those who are interested in this issue which since 1865 has dominated American and European politics, The Multicultural Mystique provides a good place to start your open-minded research by seeing what the best of the liberal side have to say.

You can find this book on Amazon for $27.

Sex and violence

Friday, January 21st, 2011

discrimination_and_eleganceIf you are reading this, you exist, if you exist, you were most certainly born, and if you were born, you will most certainly die. There are few guarantees in life, but death is one of them.

Life and death are as complementary to each other as good and evil, light and darkness, sun and moon, woman and man. It has been said that woman is the gatekeeper of life. This is true. But if woman is the gatekeeper of life, then man is the gatekeeper of death. Life and death are not dual opposites, but a complementary duality. We like to view them as opposites because we fear death.

Consider the Octo-Mom, a modern day myth if there ever was one. The Octo-Mom is just like a serial killer; she is a serial-birther. Charles Manson may as well be the father. Indiscriminate killing is equal to indiscriminate birthing. We do not see her as a murderer, but this is pretense. Her goal was having children, and all else was indiscriminate. For her, it was like getting her nails done or buying a pet poodle.

A birth is in no way superior to a death. If anything they are equivalent. The predator needs its prey, but the herd also needs its predator or the herd becomes overwhelmed in indiscriminate and directionless individuals who weaken the herd. The herd can face death every day, or it can suddenly face failure through nonexistence. It fears death so much it makes death taboo, and failure much more likely.

Fertilizer is dead matter out of which life arises. Without the constant death of organisms to provide decaying matter full of nutrients, plants would not grow; without the death of (parts of) plants to be eaten, animals would not live. Life needs death much more than death needs life. If this was a poker game, Death would be on the button, with a 10 to 1 chip advantage, puffing away on a cigar (Death doesn’t have to worry about cancer).

Now consider the recent story of Suzy Favor Hamilton. Suzy Favor was an Olympian runner that recently revealed she led a double life as an escort. She was not bankrupt or in need of money. She is another form of the indiscriminate, essentially confusing lots of sex with the meaningful feeling that sex in the right context can deliver. She favored the indiscriminate “life” over death, and so encountered failure as a person.

As far as the excuses we give for the Octo-Moms and Suzy Favor Hamiltons of the world, these are mostly nonsense that we agree to pretend is important so people aren’t offended. Hamilton’s indiscretions were rationalized as “coping mechanisms.” Fair enough, but did you know that Ted Kaczynski’s mail bombs were also coping mechanisms? It may be hard to believe, but I am a psychoanalyst — just ask me!

You may recall that in the 90s, out of nowhere, rose yet another vague, nebulous “awareness campaign.” This one was essentially about safe sex and sex in general. We all needed to have lots of frank discussions about sex and be educated about sex, and who better to talk with you about sex than MTV and your gym teacher? They supported the indiscriminate, too, because they saw sex as a way of keeping death away. Maybe more of it will help.

Our society needs to own up to the importance of death. Without death, there is no life. Without life, there would still be death. Humankind has mastered many things in life, but even if we beat old age, we will not beat death. If I was a gambling man, and I am, I would wager that man will most likely never master death. I will give you 10 to 1 odds; my money is on death all the way. Man is not the master of death, for Death is the master of Man.

Recommended Reading