Spergs and History

Further to this post.  Honestly, I’d never given much thought to “the historicity of Jesus” before.  Even when I was an atheist, the existence of an actual person called Jesus of Nazareth, who — though his words and deeds were heavily mythologized — made more or less recognizable versions of the claims the Bible said he did, seemed logical.  Though I only read his book after my conversion, I thought about the historical Jesus more or less like Reza Aslan does — one of many wandering prophets who mistakenly thought himself the Biblical Messiah, and convinced a group of zealots to rebel against Rome because of it.

I never realized that there are lots and lots of folks out there who claim Jesus didn’t exist at all.  Now, I’m not going to do a fisk on that whole article.  There are literally two thousand years’ worth of apologetics to draw on, and I’m sure C.S. Lewis, to say nothing of a thousand lesser lights, can knock out a Professor of Religious Studies (!!) who claims God doesn’t exist in about five pages.  But I do want to explore the “question” of the historicity of Jesus a little bit, as I think it sheds some light on sperg psychology (and thus might be of some use in understanding Our Betters, the liberals).

Here’s an example of the kind of thing I mean:

These early sources [the Gospels], compiled decades after the alleged events, all stem from Christian authors eager to promote Christianity – which gives us reason to question them. The authors of the Gospels fail to name themselves, describe their qualifications, or show any criticism with their foundational sources – which they also fail to identify.

Spergs can’t process context, so this sounds convincing to them.  Problem is, this criticism applies to almost every other source in the ancient world.  Not to mention just about every source in the medieval world and the early modern world, all across the globe.  The author of the Gesta Francorum is anonymous and obviously biased in favor of the Crusaders, but we don’t dismiss him out of hand because of it.  The Nihon Shoki is anonymous, biased, and shows no inclination to critique its sources, and ditto.  Indeed, I would challenge anybody, anywhere, to name an ancient source in which

  • the author identifies himself by name,
  • describes his qualifications,
  • critiques his sources, and
  • displays no overt bias.

Hint: It don’t exist, because those are the desiderata of modern history, which dates (at best) to the Renaissance.

Forget methodological context; that demand doesn’t even make sense in historical context.  The apocalyptic Jewish messianism of the 1st century AD, of which Jesus (if he existed) was at minimum a significant part, would soon explode into the first of three enormously destructive rebellions against Roman rule.  Can we really expect an author of a pro-Jesus tract to identify himself under those conditions?

But again, spergs can’t process context, and because of this, they display a very peculiar attitude towards evidence.  We’ve all noted the online Left’s word fetish — they seem to think that the dictionary is the One Ring, and they certainly act as if naming a thing calls it into being (of course the Affordable Care Act makes healthcare affordable; it says so right in the name of the bill!).  They will do this regardless of context, logic, or methodological rigor.  I think we can see the process at work here.  Basically, it amounts to an unnatural fixation on detail (one of the key traits of autism, of course).  Like so:

Let’s say that they’re building a parking lot somewhere in southern Britain, and in the process they’ve unearth a cache of Roman-era artifacts.  Stashed away in one of the pots is an account by an anonymous author that tells the tale of a certain soldier, a centurion by the name of Miles Nonexisticus.  This man, who served with the legion II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis, thought he was the earthly incarnation of the god Jupiter, and he soon attracted a cult following.  The paper, Manuscript A, is carbon-dated to about 80 AD.

Archaeologists and historians would consider this a major find.  It’s unquestionably authentic (that is, dated to c. 80 AD), and that’s rare enough, but we almost never get info like this on folk beliefs.  Now, the pros can’t do a whole lot more with it — it’s only one source, however intriguing — and so it’ll get written up, and field specialists will take note of it, but that’s about all.

But then, a few months later, there’s another document, Manuscript B, unearthed in a different part of Britain.  This one, also anonymous, tells a version of the same tale.  Some of the details are different — it doesn’t name the man, and refers only to “a soldier” of the legion IX Hispana – but the main story is the same.  It’s carbon-dated to about 100 AD.

Again, professional historians would go nuts.  From two independent sources, writing at different times, we have a tale of a Roman legionary who built a cult following around himself as the incarnation of Jupiter.  His rank is different in both versions, he’s only named in one, and the later one has him in a different outfit, but both II Adiutrix and IX Hispana were unquestionably in Britain in that timeframe.  The pros would conclude that, at the very least, there was a story about a crazy cult leader going around Roman Britain in c. 80-100 AD.  That alone would warrant a mention in any discussion of popular religion in the Roman Empire.  We might not have to rewrite the books just yet, but it’s unquestionably important.

Except… spergs wouldn’t see it that way.  Manuscript B clearly contradicts Manuscript A on some crucial points.  B doesn’t even name the guy, and it has him in a whole other unit, which was halfway across the island!  One or the other of them is probably lying.  Far from being proof that one Miles Nonexisticus got himself a cult going sometime around 80 AD, this is just more evidence of the unreliability of all archaeological evidence.

But then there’s a third source, Manuscript C, found during the auction of an old, decrepit peer’s estate.  This one is a register of events in the Roman province.  It’s carbon-dated to around 110, and it mentions in passing that in the author’s youth, he witnessed the provincial legion commander (alas, unnamed) executing one of his junior officers for stirring up some kind of religious mania among the troops.

Professional historians see this as corroboration.  It’s looking increasingly likely that there was a centurion, probably named Miles Nonexisticus, who was in the grip of a religious delusion sometime around 80 AD.  Not spergs, though.  Correlation isn’t causation, after all!!  We simply can’t conclude with any degree of confidence, they think, that these two legionaries are one and the same guy.

A bit later, Manuscript D is discovered.  This one is much later — carbon-dated to around 200 AD — and it tells the complete tale of Miles Nonexisticus, the incarnation of Jupiter, and all his words and deeds.  The author of Manuscript D is anonymous, unfortunately, but he’s clearly convinced that Miles Nonexisticus was Jupiter, and that when the ungodly commander of IX Hispana had him killed, he actually executed Jupiter, and that’s why Britannia is experiencing so many trials and tribulations right now.

At this point, the pros really do have to rewrite the history books.  It’s fairly likely that there really was a soldier called Miles Nonexisticus, possibly a centurion, and almost certainly a member of IX Hispana.  This man thought he was the incarnation of Jupiter, and he caused quite a stir — so much so, that his cult still had at least one proselytizing disciple more than a hundred years later.

But apply the Raphael Lataster / Richard Carrier standard, and what do you get?  Nothing useful, that’s for sure.  None of our sources is named, and none of them is in the least bit critical of their info.  In fact, none of them reveals just how he came by his information, and one guy, the religious fanatic who penned Manuscript D, is clearly trying to gain converts.  Instead of proving that Miles Nonexisticus was a real person, these documents actually show that he wasn’t.  They don’t hardly have any details, and the ones they do list contradict each other.  Isn’t it likelier that the author of Manuscript D is trying to scam the local religious by making up some story about a miracle-working Roman legionary from the remote past?

“Geek Fatigue”

Gary wins Comment of the Week for this, re: “Free Thought” blogger and internet date-beggar Richard Carrier:

Assaulted with the glut of dorky shit like this inundating the net, I feel a certain geek fatigue taking hold. The guy is a lampoon waiting to happen, but I can’t seem to work myself into a satiric mood. All I can muster is a kind of weary disdain at the whole spectacle.

But at the risk of lightening the gloom’n’doom for which I am famous (among our three regular readers), I think we can make some lemonade out of this particular lemon.  Cruising over to Carrier’s “Free Thought Blog,” we find that he glories in a PhD in Ancient History from Columbia.  We also find this book, on the historicity of Jesus:

Carrier finds the…theory [that Jesus didn’t actually exist] more credible than has been previously imagined. He explains why it offers a better explanation for all the disparate evidence surviving from the first two centuries of the Christian era. He argues that we need a more careful and robust theory of cultural syncretism between Jewish theology and politics of the second-temple period and the most popular features of pagan religion and philosophy of the time. For anyone intent on defending a historical Jesus, this is the book to challenge.

Here’s Aspie psychology at its finest.  Let’s start at the top: If one were to advance the proposition “Christianity is False,” this is the way to do it.  After all, the truth of the Christian message depends on the physical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth — a real man, living flesh, returned from the dead.  Disprove that, and Christianity must collapse.  St. Paul says as much (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Now, most people would pick the softer target — the “resurrection” bit.  (Maybe Jesus was in a coma or something).  But not Dr. Carrier.  He’s going for the quadruple axel, so that even the French judge will have to give him a 10.

And with that, we’re already deep in the Kingdom of the Spergs.  Y’all know you can’t prove a negative, right?

And make no mistake, that’s what Carrier is trying to achieve.  Otherwise, what’s the point of a book like this?  Unlike, say, here (where “you can’t prove Washington said that!” is just a tic of troll OCD), there would be enormous real-world consequences if a substantial number of people accepted the proposition that Jesus didn’t really exist.  Carrier’s preaching to the “Free Thought” choir, yes, but it’s clear that he also expects a legion of neckbeards to charge into online battle against the forces of the Magic Sky Fairy armed with his tome.

There’s a name for compulsive activity that’s doomed to fail, and it’s not a sign of psychological health.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  After all, it’s not really that surprising that a man who begs his blog readership for dates is a little unclear on how the real world works.  For our purposes, the more interesting phenomenon is Carrier’s abuse of his degree.

One is supposed to assume that, because Carrier has a PhD in “Ancient History,” this is a heavy scholarly work, and that his ex cathedra pronouncements on the validity of historical evidence represent the baseline knowledge in the field.  That’s not just wrong, but willfully, maliciously misleading.

For one thing, doctorates don’t work like that.  When you finish your PhD, you’re the world’s expert in your subject…. but said subject is microscopically small.  Carrier’s PhD dissertation, for example, is titled “Attitudes toward the Natural Philosopher in the Early Roman Empire (100 B.C. to 313 A.D.)”  In other words, it’s a content analysis — he rounded up everything ever written (painted, sculpted, graffiti-ed) about a type of person, and looked for patterns.  It’s exhausting, and you can learn a lot from it, but

  • it’s hella interpretive, and
  • the source base, even at its broadest, is very small.

An example: Aristophanes’s play The Clouds makes fun of Socrates as a buffoonish old man who is forever lost in trivial speculations (at one point, if I remember correctly, he’s staring at the sky, ruminating, and a bird craps on him).  If The Clouds was frequently staged at Rome in the early 1st century A.D., we could reasonably claim that it’s likely that theatergoers thought birds crapping on Socrates is funny.  From there, we can infer that they have an irreverent attitude towards philosophers in general.

And this is how you have to do it.  Smoking-gun statements like “I think natural philosophers are great” or “As you know, Bob, I think Socrates was full of hooey” just don’t exist for most time periods.  It’s certainly legit if done right, but these conclusions are always provisional (maybe Emperor Nero was a big fan of The Clouds, and frequently ordered it staged, in which case the likelier conclusion is that audience was just there to suck up).  There’s been more than one dissertation torpedoed by new evidence coming to light a few days before publication.

[Note: I don’t know that Carrier actually did this (my days of slogging through dissertations are long over).  This is a hypothetical, to illustrate the kind of thing you’d expect to find in a work of that title].

The sources themselves are also extremely problematic.  I’m not an ancient historian, let alone at the PhD level, but I do know a little something about how historical evidence works.  The further back in time you go, the more “accidents of survival” come into play.  Just because it exists doesn’t mean it’s important, even if it’s the one and only thing we have to go on.  Similarly, some extremely important stuff doesn’t exist at all.  For instance, there are many books that must’ve been super-popular in the ancient world — they’re constantly referred to and quoted from — that nonetheless don’t exist anymore.  And even the sources that we have in relatively complete form are often cobbled together from badly damaged manuscripts, plus interpolations from quotes in other sources (and when those quotes diverge, we make our best guess as to the “correct” version).*

The Bible actually stacks up really well in this regard.  We have lots of surviving copies of most texts, and the copies mostly agree with each other, and they jive pretty well with quotes and references in other sources.  This has always given atheists the seething red-ass.**  One can certainly argue that the early Church ruthlessly purged a whole lot of stuff (I’m pretty sure no serious Biblical scholar denies this), but it’s hard to argue that they were working off dramatically different versions of the texts than the ones we know today.

Given that, the life of Jesus is actually extremely well-attested, by just about any standard a serious historian would accept.  But since it’s easy to get dragged off into the weeds here (as proselytizing atheists are wont to do), let’s consider a counter-example.  Here’s Carrier’s thesis in On the Historicity of Jesus:

Carrier contrasts the most credible reconstruction of a historical Jesus with the most credible theory of Christian origins if a historical Jesus did not exist. Such a theory would posit that the Jesus figure was originally conceived of as a celestial being known only through private revelations and hidden messages in scripture; then stories placing this being in earth history were crafted to communicate the claims of the gospel allegorically; such stories eventually came to be believed or promoted in the struggle for control of the Christian churches that survived the tribulations of the first century.

Now, let’s apply that to, say, Socrates.  The “Socratic Problem” is well known, but notice that it starts by assuming that Socrates was a real person.  How do we know this?  He himself wrote nothing that survived, and almost all of our information on his life comes from — ahem! — four different sources, written at different time periods, containing divergent and contradictory accounts.  Our chief source, Plato, was no stranger to constructing elaborate allegories to reveal metaphysical truths, and the Academy was an influential institution that was host to any number of significant power struggles down through the ages.

I hypothesize, then, that Socrates didn’t exist, and that this better explains the spread of Platonism in the ancient world than the existence of a real, ugly man cruising around the Agora, claiming to know nothing and questioning all and sundry about their beliefs.

See what I mean?  We’re back to begging the question — we’ve “proved” that Jesus / Socrates didn’t exist, because we start from the assumption that Jesus / Socrates didn’t exist.  The only way you’d fall for it — if you weren’t already convinced, and just looking for an excuse — would be if you didn’t know that much about historical methods, and were using Carrier’s PhD in “Attitudes towards the Natural Philosopher” as a stand-in for wide, deep knowledge that he can’t possibly possess.

If you were a credential-worshiper, in other words.  A.k.a. a neckbearded internet sperg.  Geek fatigue, indeed!

 

 

*If you want to see how all this stuff plays out, pick up a “critical edition” of an ancient text and read the scholarly apparatus in the intro and appendices.  They’ll tell you all about how they arrived at the “definitive” version.  It’s insanely complicated.  This is also why, btw, editions published in different time periods sometimes radically differ.  It’s not just a “new translation;” in many cases, there’s a whole bunch of new evidence that has come to light, significantly changing the meaning of the text.

**Though it must be admitted that a lot of contemporary Christian apologists go overboard the other way.  No, all ancient copies of the Gospels are not letter-perfect, and no, their transmission is not unproblematic.  But given accidents of survival on just about all other sources, they compare very, very favorably.

Pup-lic Perceptions, Or, Why I Write about Books I Don’t Read

It seems a bit odd — even SJW-ish — to devote blog posts to books I don’t read.  I’ve said many times that I really don’t read fiction anymore, and have never been much of a science fiction fan.  And yet I post on “Sad Puppies.” Why?

Because for once we’ve got the other side speaking in plain English.

All the Left’s bad ideas emanate from the ivory tower.  But as I’ve written at probably way too much length, obscurity is academia’s master value.  You can’t argue against it without decoding it, and decoding it means accepting its assumptions.  It’s just question-begging, but it’s such weird, dense, polysyllabic question-begging that most people give up long before they get to the bottom.

With this Sad Puppies stuff, though, the begging is front and center.  It’s illustrative of the Left’s whole cognitive style and rhetorical strategy, and that’s why I write about it.

As an example, let’s look at the case of Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie.  Along with John Scalzi’s Redshirts and Rachel Swirsky’s short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,” Ancillary Justice is part of the Puppies’ case that the Hugo Awards, at least, have become all about politics.

I want y’all to note that I have not read Ancillary Justice.  That’s crucial for this piece.  Repeat: I have not read this book.

But let’s assume I’m in the market for a good science fiction novel.  I see that Ancillary Justice has won all kinds of awards.  So I cruise over to Amazon and look at the professional blurbs.  Not a lot of help there.

“Powerful.”—The New York Times

Okey dokey.

I’ve never met a heroine like Breq before. I consider this a very good thing indeed.”—John Scalzi

For purposes of this review, I’ve never heard of John Scalzi before.  I’m gonna assume he’s some S/F bigshot and leave it at that.  His blurb pings my sermon-o-meter — new heroines are good — but eh.  Moving on…

“A double-threaded narrative proves seductive, drawing the reader into the naive but determined protagonist’s efforts to transform an unjust universe. Leckie uses…an expansionist galaxy-spinning empire [and] a protagonist on a single-minded quest for justice to transcend space-opera conventions in innovative ways. This impressive debut succeeds in making Breq a protagonist readers will invest in, and establishes Leckie as a talent to watch.”—Publishers Weekly

Ok, so it’s the thinking man’s space opera.  Not my cup of tea in the real world, but for purposes of our experiment, I’m almost sold — it’s worth picking up.  But the customer reviews…. ugh.  There are three on the main page.  The first is incomprehensible.  The second, though…

The main character is the remainder of a self-aware starship capable of diffuse thought through dozens of reanimated human shells, the story takes place in parallel over two time periods, scenes sometimes switch between locations paragraph-to-paragraph, and the main society has very, um, different views on gender.

And the third:

One of the things that gets a lot of discussion is the gender neutrality of the book, and the use of the term “she” to describe everyone.

I’m smelling a gimmick.  So I turn to the intertubes, and come across the Sad Puppies.  They inform me that yep, it’s a gimmick.  From the comments here:

Why I’m Voting for Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice – Justin Landon, Tor.com

But, what has made Ancillary Justice a sensation, what has made it a Clarke and Nebula Award Winner and Hugo Nominee, is the simplest idea you can imagine. It’s a book that can speak to everyone. Because Breq speaks to everyone.

Search the web for reviews of Ancillary Justice and odds are that all of them comment on pronouns.
[…]
For the purposes of the novel, Breq’s gender is completely opaque. It’s assumed Breq is female because of the nature of the pronouns, but it’s merely an assumption, one bred by decades of living in the modern social construct

Published in the middle of a cultural revolution within the science fiction and fantasy community, Ancillary Justice has become something of a clarion call for women and other underrepresented populations fed up with the kyriarchy. A novel that erases that dominance, that makes the feminine default and portrays a character that lacks discernible gender, resonates in that environment. […]

Science fiction and fantasy hasn’t been particularly good at representing its wide and diverse readership. It’s a genre predicated on white cis men doing hero stuff. […]

Ancillary Justice rejects that notion outright. […]

the actual story is often glossed over in discussing Leckie’s novel, favoring the meatier issues of self and gender mentioned above.

Sorry for the length of that blockquote, but it’s important.  Because here’s the thing:  There’s a simple way to convince me this isn’t a gimmick.  Show me how the pronoun thing makes this a better story for everyone.

That’s it.

I get why some folks think the pronoun thing makes this a better story for women, or for minorities — see the blockquoted screed above.  But that proves the Puppies’ point.  It’s not the best sci-fi story of 2014; it’s the best sci-fi story aimed at a particular demographic of 2014.  Which is fine by me.  But then here come the anti-Puppies, insisting that no, Ancillary Justice is the best sci-fi novel, full stop, and it’s because of the pronoun thing.

Now we have a claim we can test.  Boil all that verbiage down, and you’ve got:

This bolus of Social Justice ideology — the pronoun thing — causes Ancillary Justice to be a ripping-good space opera.

That’s what “Breq speaks to everyone” means, no?  That the pronoun thing isn’t a gimmick, or (at best) a confusing distraction, but the central thing that makes this story so relatable?

Alas, they never get around to making that case.  Instead, we see them arguing the negative.  Even questioning the pronoun thing means you’re either stupid, or a hater, or a Vile Faceless Minion of the Evil Legion of Evil.  In other words: D-I-S-Q-U-A-L-I-F-Y.

I know, I know — this sure seems like a long road to take to a simple point (and, indeed, a point that y’all already knew anyway).  But it’s useful, I think, because again — we’ve got plain English here.  Look at the critical blurbs.  They’re trying to sell this as a ripping space opera, but they’re also trying to slide the gender thing in there.  It sticks out like a sore thumb, doesn’t it?  In college, you simply have to deal with the fact that “race, class, and gender” are gonna show up in your coursework.  If you want class credit, you accept it, and parrot it back when required.  But this is pleasure reading.  To anyone not steeped in this stuff, even the sales pitch seems off.

And then you get to the customer reviews, and just three spots in the battle lines are drawn — you’ve got a two-star rating commenting on the gimmick, and criticizing the pacing.  And then you get into the wider fan community, and the actual story goes completely out the window.  Now it’s nothing but the gimmick.  But unlike academia, nobody’s holding the gradebook.  They have to sell you on the gimmick.

And this is the best they can do.  D-I-S-Q-U-A-L-I-F-Y.

 

The Things I Do for Y’all

I know I sometimes bore our regular readers (all three of y’all) to tears.  I’m too defeatist, I talk about Fascism too much, I sometimes report on a tempest in a sci-fi teapot that I don’t even care about, and I still don’t understand cognitive dissonance.

But at least I don’t ask you for dates.

So, this is experimental. I’d like to go on a date in May. And for the first time, I’m going to try a bat signal: putting a call out on my blog. I don’t know anyone else who has tried doing that, so I have no precedent to work from as to etiquette or even arguments for or against doing it. So I’m just going to do it and see what happens and document and assess. If you know anyone who might have an interest in dating me, let them know. If you might have an interest, read on.

Oh, please do read on:

I’ll start by making sure anyone considering this is up to speed. I am polyamorous. I currently have many girlfriends. All I consider my friends. Some are just occasional lovers. Some I am more involved with. They are also polyamorous, or near enough (not all of them identify that way, but all of them enjoy open relationships). And I will always have relationships with them, as long as they’ll have me in their life.

I don’t even have a joke here, comrades.  Words fail me.  Ummm…. Marx?  Cognitive dissonance is bullshit?  The American right is enthusiastically embracing Fascism?

Nope, I got nothin’.  So let me leave the cruelty to the professionals:

That certainly answers the zen master’s ancient question about what the sound of 150 million vaginas simultaneously dehydrating sounds like. And here we all thought it was hypothetical.

The Rectification of Names, Part II

untitledConfucius say that we need to talk about the F-word, and why many, many people want it.

First things first: You need to ignore what academic historians and political scientists say.  They will tell you that Fascism is a movement of the right wing.  This is false — Fascists are collectivists to the bone.

There’s a simple reason academics can’t see this.  Remember, in the ivory tower, radicalism is a virtue.  Professional academics consider themselves not just of the left, but on the hardcore fringes of the left.  Karl Marx is their moon and stars, and according to Marx, it’s impossible for a left-wing movement to be nationalist.  For Marx, the international proletariat are forever fighting against international finance capital and their unwitting stooges, the nationalist bourgeoisie.  “National socialism” is a thus contradiction in terms; anything “nationalist” is, by definition, right-wing.

But “national socialism” is not only not contradictory, it’s a concise summary of Fascism’s goal.  Fascists also embrace Marx’s theory of class conflict, with one key twist:  Marx thought that the worldwide proletarian Revolution was inevitable.  Fascists think it’s preventable — by turning the nationalist bourgeoisie from the unwitting stooges of international finance capital to the willing allies of the national proletariat.  International socialism, a.k.a. Marxism, is a worldwide proletarian revolution; National socialism is a nationalist bourgeois one.

Everybody with me?  I hate to keep repeating this, but you simply must put aside your mental pictures of Hitler raving at this point.  Race has nothing to do with Fascism.  In the Nazi version of it, yes, “World Jewry” was identical to both “international finance capital” and “international proletarian socialism.”  How?  Because Hitler was crazy.  Never forget that.  But for Mussolini, and Tojo, and Chiang Kai-Shek, Jews had nothing to do with anything.

For those guys, the nation was the thing.  “The nation” is not identical to “the race.”  There was no Italian version of the Ahnenerbe, digging around Tibet for ancestral Romans.  There was no Japanese RuSHA, making sure only pure Yamato blood joined the armed forces (indeed, the most ardent Japanese militarists were religious believers in Pan-Asianism).  A nation is considerably more than blood and soil, and it’s threatened on both sides — by globalization, a.k.a. international finance capitalism, and by communism, a.k.a. international proletarian socialist revolution.

Thus, the goal was to fuse the nation ever more tightly together:

  • The national proletariat must be protected from competition / revolution from below

while

  • The national bourgeoisie must be protected from competition / amalgamation from above.

To protect the proletariat, Fascists aimed to level the playing field — national workers will be favored, immigration strictly curtailed, and imports tightly controlled.  Education, health care, etc. will be provided by the state, in order to keep the national proletariat healthy, happy, and contented (remember, Marxism predicts that wages under industrial capitalism will soon drop to, and then below, minimum subsistence levels, at which point the Revolution begins).

To protect the bourgeoisie, Fascists also aimed to level the playing field, by tightly controlling exports, curtailing immigration, and favoring medium-to-large national business enterprises.  Jobs won’t be offshored, and if this means that mom’n’pop operations will necessarily fall victim to economies of scale, they’ll at least remain inside the country — an independent mechanic is now a well-paid employee of IG Farben, with access to all the healthcare, retirement, and other benefits provided to the national proletariat by the state.

Meanwhile, all classes are brought together by military-type institutions.  The army, of course, was massively expanded in all fascist countries, but they spent huge amounts of money and time setting up national institutions in all areas of life.  These were explicitly classless — advancement in the Hitler Youth, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, and the Party itself were officially, ostentatiously meritocratic.  Autarky, meanwhile, eliminates the need to look elsewhere for anything material.  Remember: Like Marx, the Fascists thought class conflict was inevitable.  They just wanted the conflict to happen within the state, where it could be ameliorated — and eventually all but eliminated — by state institutions.

Everybody with me?  Now, flash forward to America, 2014.

Section break!

Section break!

Our Progressives, obviously, are old-school Marxists.  Lenin et al thought capitalism itself would take care of sparking the Revolution, as evil fatcats would reduce the wages of the industrial proletariat to, then below, subsistence level.  That didn’t happen, but it did happen with the agricultural proletariat.  This is one of the reasons even the few educated Leftists don’t talk in classical Marxist terms anymore — Marxism became Marxism-Leninism, and every neckbeard with a PhD spent the next 80 years trying to explain how backwards peasant revolutions meant Marx was actually double-secret right all along.  But as always with Our Betters, you have to look at what they do, not what they say.  Illegal immigration and Cloward-Piven are merely attempts to import a new proletariat, since the old one embraced capitalism and turned bourgeois.  Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, meanwhile, simply is old-school commie agitation (Alinksy was born in 1909 and was a living caricature of an old-school Lenin-lovin’, labor-organizin’ leftie, right down to the Russian-immigrant Jewish parents and the ghetto agitation).  You could take any Leninist pamphlet from the Twenties, do a ctrl-H on “Revolution” and “proletariat,” and boom — instant Social Justice Warrior.  Try it sometime — don’t forget to properly de-gender xer pronouns, comrade.

Here’s the twist, though: These days, straight-up, old-school class warfare rhetoric is found almost exclusively on the Right. 

Our modern Left shares the same ideals, goals, and thought processes with the Old Left.  The only difference is, they’ve skipped that whole “Revolution” thing and have gone straight to being the Vanguard of the Proletariat.  They still boss you around for your own good from their McMansions in lily-white gated communities; they just never bothered with all those gun battles in the streets (HBO was having a Girls marathon).  Hillary Clinton is every single Old Left diatribe about parasitic bourgeois intellectuals in a pantsuit, and not only do Our Betters not care, they’re dying to loft her to new heights.

The Right, though….

“Fatcat CEOs.”  “Banksters.”  “Oligarchs.”  “The Government Party.”  You ain’t gonna be seeing those on Daily Kos anytime soon.  Actual conservatives hate the Koch Brothers far more than liberals do.  At any time before about 1994, you could count on NPR and The Nation for a good diatribe about how uncontrolled immigration was screwing over the American worker.  These days, you have to go to Vox Day or Ace of Spades.  It’s the Right that complains about Congressional kabuki, giving Wall Street everything it wants via engineered losses to the Democrats.  Prudential wrote ObamaCare, and Eric Holder just took a fat job at JP Morgan, and the mainstream Left said not a word.  Million-hit blogs on the Right were furious.

See where this is going?  The Vanguard of the Proletariat is perfectly happy in their white, upper-middle-class enclaves.  If you look at what they do, not what they say, they’re the nationalist bourgeoisie, the unwitting dupes of international finance capital.  The Right sees this — they’re the only ones that do — just as they’re the only ones who see the revolutionary potential of the unassimilated, unassimilable proletariat.  Ghetto blacks and imported Aztecs are absolutely screwed in a postindustrial knowledge economy, and the EBT cards won’t work forever.

What, then, is to be done?  I refer y’all once again to this.  I’d be willing to be the average reader of any of the top conservative blogs would vote for this in a heartbeat:

Strip wealthy oligarchs of their power over policy and the composition of the nation’s citizens. Tariffs, big tax increases on the 0.1%, improved government oversight of their backroom dealings, very high minimum wages, and laws designed to limit the ability of the super wealthy to lobby for cheap labor

And that, my friends, is Fascism.  It’s the amelioration of class conflict within state institutions.  Socialism below, nationalism above, autarky throughout. It’s nationalist collectivism, and it’s coming exclusively from the modern cultural Right.

Huh.  So maybe those egghead academics are correct after all….

Called It

For your reading pleasure.

Y’all seem to hate it when I use the f-word.  And yet, here it is.  With the exception of #3 (surveillance state), this is a classic Fascist platform.  I especially dig the “timeless norms.”

Note, please, that I think they are A-1 super ideas.   They are also completely outside the realm of the American constitutional system as it has developed in these last 50-100 years.  None of them could possibly be accomplished, at this late date, without significant bloodshed.

Again: I think these are great ideas.  The first step in the dissolution of the United States was eliminating property qualifications for voting, way back when.  The US was never intended to be a mass democracy — “democracy,” as the Founders understood it, meant mob rule.  That’s what Mussolini was getting at, here:

Fascism is for the only liberty which can be a serious thing, the liberty of the state and of the individual in the state. Therefore for the fascist, everything is in the state, and no human or spiritual thing exists, or has any sort of value, outside the state. In this sense fascism is totalitarian, and the fascist state which is the synthesis and unity of every value, interprets, develops and strengthens the entire life of the people.

And that’s what Roissy is getting at here:

Strip wealthy oligarchs of their power over policy and the composition of the nation’s citizens. Tariffs, big tax increases on the 0.1%, improved government oversight of their backroom dealings, very high minimum wages, and laws designed to limit the ability of the super wealthy to lobby for cheap labor

and here

I don’t want to live in a surveillance state; I want to live in a cohesive society with high trust levels that obviates the need for mass surveillance

and especially here:

Press the point that individual rights will wilt without societal norms to scaffold them.

How is such a high-trust society to be achieved, given modern technology?  How can the monitoring apparatus that keeps the 0.1% on such a tight leash not be turned on the citizenry?

Only if all is folded into the state — the national state, the ethnic state.  In a low-tech world, such as America c.1787-1860, this monitoring could occur at the local level, among essentially homogenous populations which were closely bonded either by religion and custom (the settled regions east of the Mississippi) or by the self-organizing near-anarchy of a universally armed entrepreneurs (the Wild West).  Likeminded people monitored each other.

In a techno-industrial age, though, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up.  Centralize.  The state itself must be the arbiter of cultural values.  They must be imposed top-down, and ruthlessly policed by the state.  That’s why organizations like the Hitler Youth and the Bund Deutscher Madel were compulsory.

You need what Mussolini described as his ideal:  A benign police state, basically.

Again, y’all: People want this.  Many, many people.  And at some point, some charismatic someone will realize that if 5% (at most) of the population can use the state to terrorize the other 95%, and enforce their will through lawfare…. well, the sky’s the limit if  just 6% of the remaining 95% ever get organized.  We’re seeing the first stirrings of it now, with GamerGate and Sad Puppies.  Silly as those are, they’re hammering home one vital point — the total number of SJWs is actually quite small, yet they wield disproportionate influence.  They look like us, they sound like us, they claim to be one of us… but they are not us.  They are implacably hostile to us.  They want nothing more than our downfall.  Could they not be… purged?

When I say Fascism is coming, y’all, this is what I mean.  Y’all think Hitler and the History Channel.  I think Mussolini and Tojo.  As with Our Betters, the liberals, so with any historical movement — look at what they do, not what they say.  1930s-style Fascism looked like comic opera, so we dismiss the ideas behind it.  They lost the war, we think, so therefore they are Losers, and their ideas aren’t worth considering.

Their ideas had broad appeal.  As proof, I offer the millions of people who died fighting for them.  We’d best think very fucking carefully about that.  Because those ideas are still around, and their appeal is waxing stronger by the day.

Perestroika and Puppies – UPDATE

Watching the Sad/Rabid Puppies endgame should be interesting.  At least, it should be more accessible than #GamerGate, which… how did that end, anyway?  I sense much butthurt in SJW bastions like Cracked.com, but I don’t really know, because I don’t play video games and couldn’t possibly muster up enough giveadamn to start.  But even though I don’t read Sci-Fi, it wouldn’t be the special kind of hell “gaming” is to get up to speed… and I dig the Puppies’ author blogs.

Anyway… for the record, here’s my two cents:  It’ll end about as well for the SJWs as perestroika did for the USSR.

“Social Justice” is just Marxism-Leninism, comrades.  We’re all clear on that, right?  They’ve just swapped out one set of question-begging bullshit jargon for another.  And so, because it’s Marxism-Leninism, it suffers from the same problem all Hegelian nonsense does — it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.  You can’t be a little bit SJW, any more than you can have a kinda-synthesis or sorta-capitalism*.  Gorbachev forgot that, so when he tried to loosen stuff up just a teeny bit in the old Soviet Union, the whole thing came crashing down around his head.

Admit one lie, you see, and you’ve tacitly admitted to all the other lies.  And when your whole system is built on lies….

And that’s the best case scenario, mind you.  If the Hugo Award TrueFans (or whatever the acronym is) are smart, they’ll go Gorbachev — grudgingly hold their noses while loudly proclaiming that they’re voting for the “”””””best”””””” of a very, very sorry lot…. and then the Puppies go away, because there’s no more shit to be stirred — all the drama queen antics cease.  That means there will forever be a year with a “wrong” Hugo, and the Hugo will never again be the Unsullied Pure SJW Award for Excellence in SJW Propaganda, but so what?  There’s always the Nebulas or the Galactic Vagina Trophy or whatever.  (If there’s one thing liberals are great at, it’s singing their own praises; they’ll come up with something).

But I’m betting they won’t, because again, Gorbachev’s the best case scenario.  Ol’ Mikhail himself would do it again in a heartbeat — he’s still alive and kicking, not buried two feet under the Siberian permafrost — but many of his kommissars got what was coming to them…. and, of course, the shining beacon of world socialism guttered and went out.  SJWs have no identity of their own; if they’re not shrieking about something, they wink out of existence like quarks.  So they’ll burn it down, No Award everything, because at least that way they can play the martyr role for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever….

 

*In case you don’t recall, “-Leninsm” got added to “Marxism” because Lenin’s successful revolution proved Marx wrong.  Marx said only advanced capitalist countries could ever progress to Revolution, because History.  But Russia was a piss-poor, backwards place, and China was even worse (and North Korea’s worst).  So Comrade Vladimir had to talk very, very, very fast to show that Marx was right after all (and that’s why every vile dictator who still calls himself a commie has penned six thousand volumes of “theory,” to retcon Marx’s theory into their present, shitty reality).

UPDATE:  Thanks to File 770 for the linkage.  They’re on the anti-Puppy side, it seems, so if you want the view from over there, this seems like a good place to start.

A Bad Attitude Towards the Classics

A question for the readership:  How do y’all feel about this?

[Some Social Justice Rabbit confirming that she’s never read a seminal figure in her own putative field]

The political angle is obvious — as Wright points out, SJWs don’t create; they can only destroy.  SJW “fiction” is just a giant mad lib — all the gay black differently-abled Hobbits gamboling through the Shire in search of the One True Hillary 2016 Campaign Button.  The intellectual side is obvious, too — since they’ve limited themselves to only Goodthinkers with at least three Diversity boxes checked, they’re abysmally ignorant of 99.9998% of everything that has been done, thought, and said in the whole of human history.

But what about y’all, dear readers?  What’s your opinion on “the classics”?

I have to make a confession: I don’t really read “the classics” either.  As I am not a professional fiction writer, nor a Fan (Tru-, Wrong-, or otherwise), I find it sufficient, for cultural literacy purposes, to have heard of Jack Vance and possess a reasonable idea of what he’s about.  If I’m in the market for a sci-fi book, I’m likelier to pick up one of his greatest hits than anything written in the last 30 years, but that’s true with just about any figure in any field (if it has been hyped in the last three decades, it is undoubtedly SJW tripe).  But I don’t feel like an ignoramus because I haven’t read The Dying Earth cover to cover.*

And this extends even to things like philosophy.  When I was in grad school, the hardcore kids all read Foucault and Lacan and Baudrillard and whatnot.  In French.  And they actually read Foucault — his original books, cover to cover.  I just don’t see the point of this.  For one, you can read him, if you must, in English.  But you mustn’t.  That is, there are a million Foucault for Dummies books out there that will give you everything you need to know, for all practical purposes.

Unless you’re a professional philosopher, engaging him on an arcane technical point of philosophy, I just don’t see the need to read him cover-to-cover at all.

The only quasi-exception is classic literature — much better to read Shakespeare than to read about him.  But even here, a little judicious browsing is sufficient.  Read a few of Donne’s sonnets, and you’ve got the Metaphysical Poets.  Slog through a few lines of Essay on Man and you’ve got the Augustan Age.  A little Rousseau will give you the Enlightenment in all its smug, smarmy, bloodthirsty glory, and a few of the Lyrical Ballads will give you everything you need to know about Romanticism.  Read more of whatever appeals to you, but for pete’s sake don’t plow through The Collected Works of _____ because “it’s good for you.”

I think this is where a lot of conservatives go off the rails.  Since all the rabbits can do is Disqualify, they immediately throw their five degrees in your face and start spouting jargon.  But that’s actually all it is — jargon.  Here’s a simple test: Can you explain what you mean without the jargon?  Doctors, for instance, have a nearly impenetrable professional lingo, but they can tell you what they mean in plain English easily enough.  A myocardial infarction is a heart attack; your distal phalanges are those little bones at the ends of your hands and feet.  It’s easier to say “distal phalanges” than “those little bones at the ends of your hands and feet,” and that’s why docs use the term.  But a term like “patriarchy,” now… what on earth does that mean?  Heteronormative?  Cisgender?  To unpack “cisgender,” you need to know both “cis-” and “gender.”  To unpack those, you have to start by assuming that the world really works the way the Wymyn’s Studies harpies say it does.

Any jargon that can’t be explained without reference to other jargon is just question-begging.

These days, a liberal-arts education is little more than learning how to spout the proper jargon.  And that’s why you don’t really need “the classics.”  Foucault is just a wannabe-Nietzsche who liked rough gay sex.  Feminists are wannabe-Lenins whose only argument is “because vagina.”  The only response you need to any of them is “I hear your buzzwords, and I disagree; the world doesn’t work like that.”  And you’ll know, because you’ve read Marx for Dummies and Nietzsche for Dummies and you’ve seen the tiny grain of actual thought inside the lumpy, turd-colored pearl of SJW jargon.

There’s absolutely no shame, in other words, in not having read Aristotle’s Politics or The Critique of Pure Reason cover to cover.  A) They haven’t either, and B) you’ve read the For Dummies version, which is more than they’ve done, and you actually know what you’re talking about.  And if conservatives try to browbeat you for not having read The Collected Works of Hayek or whatever, well, the same rules apply.  The chances are much higher that a conservative actually has read whatever he’s citing — we read; they don’t — but the principle remains the same.  If you can’t summarize whichever idea of Hayek’s you’re trying to introduce into the debate in your own words, then the problem is you, you poseur.

That’s my take, anyway.  What do y’all think?

 

*For the record, I actually did take a crack at The Dying Earth, which was four stories set in that world in an omnibus edition.  I can see why people like it, but it’s not for me.

A Nostalgia for Kommissars

Given what we know about George R.R. Martin’s politics, you’d be forgiven for assuming that’s the title of Book 7 of A Song of Ice and Fire.  But it’s actually about this, from Gary’s comments on the previous post:

if we examine each individual … we shall find that at bottom he is filled with the influences of his environment, as the skin of a sausage is filled with sausage meat… . The individual himself is a collection of concentrated social influences, united in a small unit.

They had a certain vulgar talent for idiom, those old commies.  You’re all just society’s sausage meat, comrades, stuffed into the casing of your class position.

Wouldn’t it be nice if SJWs still spoke this way?  They share Nicolai Bukharin‘s politics, and they just adore his methods.  Why not ape his speech, too?  Ponderous tautologies, shopping lists, and faux-archaisms, after all, are one of the many reasons Comrade Martin’s books are nearly a thousand pages per.  If there’s any justice in this world, Bukharin is roasting in hell, but the old murderer had bigger balls and a better prose style than any of today’s sci-fi rabbits.

The Grand Unified Theory of Everything

Since I’m out of stuff to say, I might as well say it all as concisely as I can.  Here’s my Grand Unified Theory of Everything:

Liberals believe

It is not consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness

with all their hearts, minds, and souls.  It’s the only thing they believe.

Now, I’m not saying they all know this particular phrase.  As we’ve all noticed countless times, liberals — especially the ones with multiple fancy degrees — are poorly educated and have nearly zero intellectual curiosity.  I doubt one in a thousand of them has ever even heard the phrase; maybe one in five thousand has read a single word of Marx.  But it explains all the observed facts:

Their obvious distaste for constitutional government.  Constitutions deal with Rights.  You don’t have any.  Nobody does.  Capital-R rights come from God, who doesn’t exist, or from one’s status as a human being, which changes with society.  We only speak of small-r “rights” because that was the form of society in 18th century British North America.  We have only our “class position.”

Their immunity to cognitive dissonance.  I’ve puzzled this one over for years, but it’s actually quite simple — their social being changes; therefore, their consciousness changes.  Most people who haven’t read him think Marxism is about economics.  That’s wrong — it’s about epistemology (study of knowledge) and ontology (study of being).  Marx’s quote up there addresses both.  We only know what our social being allows us to know (epistemology).  That’s why liberal politicians “evolve” on the issues.  They don’t change their minds, or come to different conclusions — that implies that there’s a set of real, unchanging facts upon which they’ve cogitated and come to a different conclusion.  Instead, they’ve changed as Society has changed.  Yesterday’s lie is today’s gospel truth, because Society says so.

Their unabashed elitism.  Social Justice Warriors are the most elitist people on the planet.  We’ve all seen it, and we’ve all wondered how they get all the privileges while yelling at us to check ours.  “Some animals are more equal than others,” we mutter.  But actually, that’s true.  Remember, The Quote is also an ontological claim.  Marx believes there is such a thing as capital-H History, and that he’s plumbed its inner workings.  He knows the end state — communism — and the process by which it will come about (“dialectical materialism”).  Thus there’s a continuum, and they’re simply closer to the End of History than you are.  Their class position, their social being, is of a different order than yours.  You can’t see it — again, you can only know what your social being allows you to know — but they can.  That’s why they’re the vanguard of the proletariat, and that’s why they deserve to run your life for you.

Their fanatical devotion to abortion.  Fetuses don’t have a social being by definition.  Therefore, they don’t exist.

Their argument style.  Liberals have one, exactly one, “debate” tactic — point-and-shriek, a.k.a. disqualify.  By challenging them, you’re implying that you’re of the same class position / have the same social being.  But that can’t be true, because you don’t think like them (remember, History only moves one way).  So they have to prove that you’re lower on the class ladder — and that, in itself, is a refutation of all your arguments.  “Shut up, prole” is really all they’ve got.

Extend those out, and you’ve got every other aspect of liberalism.  Feel free to expand in the comments.