SNUL: Generational Politics

Interesting post over at Z Man’s about generational politics.  But in addition to the inevitable NABALT from the Boomers in his readership,* Z Man made the mistake of brinigng up Allied bombing raids in World War II, so cue the spergout.**  But it’s a fun topic nonetheless.  I don’t have much to add, so please indulge some noodling:

I wonder if they have discussions like this on the Left?  My initial read is no — as your typical Leftist was raised by a single mom (=in daycare dawn to dusk, being “raised” by whatever minimum wage drone they employed that week), they don’t really see the impact of “generations.”  On the other hand, Leftism is just Daddy Issues writ large, so there must be something to it.  On the third hand (hello, Chernobyl!), every single one of them is the specialist snowflake that is, was, or ever could be, so even if you pointed out their remarkable similarity to everyone else in their cohort, they’d deny it… so probably not.

And this is where the laity might get confused about the role of the university, if they ever thought about it (seriously, though: If you find yourself being confused about the role of the university, or thinking about it at all, and you’re not directly employed by one, seek therapy).  There are, after all, entire academic fields that should have an interest in this kind of thing — History of course, but also Cultural Studies and American Studies.***   Alas, the ivory tower doesn’t work like that.  They’re against the familiy, you see, and have been since Engels, so studying it falls to the feminists (who — I bet you’ll never guess! — have labeled it a patriarchal imposition of the CisHetPat capitalists).  If you want to study this kind of thing, you’ll have to do it yourself.

Fortunately, stuff like Project Gutenberg makes it pretty easy.  Heck, the Penguin Classics do, if you do it right.  Pick popular or significant works about 30 years apart and read them back to back.  They might as well have been written on different planets.  You can even do this with YouTube, if you like — aside from the ship having the same name, Star Trek TNG has nothing at all to do with the original.  See also any show recently remade (McGyver etc.) — the new version looks like it was made by Martians.

Seriously, try it — what culture could possibly have produced something like My Mother the Car or Diff’rent Strokes?  Comprehend that, and you’ve learned a lot about your own generation too.



*Reminds me of an old joke about a preacher began a sermon with, “I’ve noticed there are some women in my flock who take every general statement as if it applies to them personally.”  Immediately every woman in the congregation jumped up and yelled “No I don’t!”

**Irrelevant to the topic or the spergout, but who says Germans don’t have a sense of humor?  Goering, the head of the Luftwaffe, said at the beginning of the war that if one Allied bomber were seen over Berlin, his name was Meyer.  From there on out, every time an air raid siren went off, Berliners would start waving at the sky and shout “Hello, Herr Meyer!”

***In which you get your PhD by reading the whole run of a comic book and comparing it to Star Trek while ranting about capitalism.

Conservative Revolutions

Before it became common knowledge, it was chic and edgy to say “the American Revolution was a conservative revolution.”  By going on “the rights of Englishmen” and so forth, George Washington and the rest of the CisHetPat slaveowning gun nuts were really securing their position at the top of the North American food chain.  The Stamp Act and whatnot were threatening their economic prosperity, you see, so “no taxation without representation!”*

That position is stupid and based on deliberate misrepresentation of data — everything put forth by Marxists is — but there is such a thing as a “conservative revolution.”  In fact, all revolutions before the printing press were conservative.  They all looked backward, to a golden age — even the bizarre millennialist sects in the Middle Ages thought they were practicing “original” Christianity, as it was (or should have been) before the Church, a.k.a. the Whore of Babylon, captured it.  It took the printing press and Puritanism to pull revolutionaries’ eyes off the golden past and onto the glorious Utopian future.**

We need to realize this, because without a “conservative” revolution, Western Civ is dead.  “Progressivism” is, as the Z Man says, a nihilistic death cult.  They were never too strong on what the Glorious Communist Utopia was supposed to look like, but with 100 years’ data to go on, it’s now obvious that the Glorious Future was never the point — it was always about killing people and breaking stuff in the here and now.  Pick any item on the SJW agenda — nobody knows what will happen when we finally reeducate all the badthinkers, but boy oh boy are they eager to get started.  Here’s the passenger list for the first cattle car….

Revolutions can look backward.  Ours needs to.  Pick a golden age — the 1950s, say — and let’s get to work.  Call it “the retro future” or something, like a Fallout video game.  Otherwise, the real future is going to look like… well, like a Fallout video game.



*It makes superficial sense, if you don’t know anything about 18th century political theory, or how the British Empire actually worked, or… well, you get the idea.  How on earth could the colonies ever get representation in Parliament?  It took months to get back and forth across the Atlantic, which colonial merchants of all people knew.  Plus, there were only thirteen colonies; they were guaranteed to get outvoted on anything important.  Yet they kept insisting on representation.  Obviously, then, it was all just a ruse to stir the rubes up!

**n.b. that the goal was always the same — greater freedom, greater equality, the overturning of stifling social convention, and free stuff for everyone.  Fra Dolcino, say, expressed himself in the parlance of his times, but he was still talking about Social Justice and gibsmedats.  Which suggests that “revolutionary” is an immemorial human type….

What’s Wrong with Socialism?

Nothing, actually.  At least, there wasn’t — not until Karl Marx got ahold of it.  Take Marx out of it, and “socialism,” like “capitalism,” is just shorthand for a universal human tendency.

An illustration will help.  George Fitzhugh was an antebellum Southern intellectual, which meant he wrote defenses of slavery.  He had himself a prose style, and carried on a quixotic correspondence with The Liberator, so he still occasionally pops up in those anthologies about how awfully racist those racist Southern racists were.  He famously declared that “slavery is the perfect socialism”….

…which is fun to taunt an SJW with, but it’s also an idea worth taking seriously.  Fitzhugh had two main arguments in favor of slavery.  The first was the basic Aristotelian one, advanced by pretty much anyone who spared a thought for mankind’s oldest and most common labor system: Slavery allows true culture to flourish by freeing the best minds from manual labor.  It’s boring, because commonplace.

The other one, though, is unique to modernity, and so far as I know, unique to Fitzhugh: Slavery protects everyone, slaves and masters alike, from the alienation of industrial capitalism.

Whether this actually applied in the South (or anywhere else) is beside the point.  Fitzhugh nailed the fundamental problem with industrialism: It has a logic of its own, that eventually reduces everyone involved to cogs in a machine.  One doesn’t feel anything but annoyance for cogs when they break; one simply throws them out, and moves on.  Slavery, Fitzhugh said, prevents that by keeping communities intact.  Moreover, slavery eliminates the stress of being forever on the knife’s edge.  Even the best-paid factory worker is subject to economic forces beyond his control; a bankruptcy in London four months ago could put him out of a job at a moment’s notice.  No matter how hard times got in the South, Fitzhugh said, slaves would always be taken care of.  Slavery is hard work, but it’s honest work, without the vague and incurable stress that was reducing so many Northerners to neurasthenic wrecks.

Again, whether anyone would take this deal if if were offered them is beside the point.*  I don’t think Fitzhugh ever read Marx, but his “capitalism is worse than slavery” argument simply takes Marx’s assumptions out as far as they will go.**  If Marx is right — if Capitalists will always reduce workers’ wages to, and then past, the point of subsistence — then, for the proles, slavery really is objectively better than capitalism.

Socialism, then — as Fitzhugh uses the term — simply means “keeping communities intact.”  An organic community wouldn’t let its members starve, even if they were no longer economically productive.  Communities preserve human relations, instead of Industrialism’s “what can you do for me today” pirate ethic.  Socialism is the deliberate, planned attempt to keep this at the forefront of human relations, and as such, there’s nothing wrong with it at all.



*Fitzhugh himself (probably) didn’t buy his own argument — he seemed to enjoy trolling his Southern readers, too, and at one point all but suggested enslaving poor Southern whites if they obviously couldn’t take care of themselves.

** There’s no contradiction here.  It didn’t matter if Fitzhugh read Marx, because nothing Marx said about the proletariat was original.  “Owners will screw workers past the point of death” was conventional wisdom among the free-thinking crowd in the late 18th century; it’s all over William Blake, for instance.  When you come right down to it, Marxism is a marketing stunt — it’s the conventional wisdom of the bleeding hearts, packaged as economics for innumerate people who fucking love science.

Junior High Dating Game

At some point in the junior high years, every boy likes a girl who doesn’t like him back.  When his Mom hears about it, she says something like “don’t worry, son; she’s a silly girl and she doesn’t know what she’s missing.”

I don’t think I’m exaggerating too much when I say that what happens next determines most of that boy’s future.

Back in the Jurassic, most American boys eventually learned that Mom, bless her heart, was wrong.  She wasn’t lying to you — at least, not consciously — but she’s a girl, and girls don’t get it.  So Dad / Older Brother /  Kind Uncle stepped in with a version of The Talk.  I doubt any boy, even a junior high one, was so dense as to need the full version, but it went something like this:

“Son, of course she’s not going to go out with you.  She’s way out of your league.  She’s going out with the quarterback.  He’s taller, stronger, better looking, more socially skilled, and because of all that, far more popular.  So now you have two choices: Work your ass off to get into that league — knowing that failure is 99.8% guaranteed — or set your sights on someone in your league.”

Let’s leave aside the vexing contemporary phenomenon, so well documented by “Game” writers, of every single Millennial girl carrying on her whole lives as if she’s playing in the Majors.  Just focus on the boys.  Back when we had a rational(ish) society, dating and Little League taught boys the fundamental economic concept of marginal utility.  At some point, the return on your efforts to hit a curveball / date a cheerleader goes negative.  You’ve maxed out, and now you learn how to make the most of the talents you do have — learning, in the process, that happiness in life is how you live it.

Or not.  Some chumps believe their Mom.

These, of course, are the Social Justice Warrirors, and they’re all convinced — literally, I’m coming to believe — that being superficially clever just IS being smart, virtuous, and sexy.  Pretty much the entire SJW catechism is not just an effort to deny Reality; rather, it’s an effort to virtue-signal just how clever one is while denying Reality.  If denying Reality were the sole point, one could very easily pretend to be Diogenes, like they did back in the Sixties (unwittingly, of course).  No, the point is showing off how blatantly and counterintuitively one can deny Reality — not even Diogenes, I’m sure, would argue that “gender is a social construction.”  It’s not enough to say “no, she’s not out of my league;” one must deny the very concept of leagues.

Back in the days — that is, before everyone was expected to go to college, or at least act like they did — this kind of thing was confined to the professoriate.  Any decent college library has shelves stacked to near-collapse with volumes proving that socialism really works, that the USSR consistently out-produced the USA, that there are no such thing as gulags, and anyway the bastards deserved it.  You really have to admire the perverse ingenuity of it all.

Alas, now everyone carries on like this.  Thanks, Mom.


Guest post from Nate Winchester:

The following is a true story*.

Where I grew up is on the border of rural and suburban (subural? rurban?). A little less than a mile from that house is a neighbor, we’ll call ‘Ed.’ He’s an older fellow, the spitting image of what pops into your head when you picture “old farm boy.” Yeah, a walking cliché of “rough around the edges.”

This road I grew up on is one surrounded by farm lands behind and around all the houses lining it. Some of the farms hold crops, others livestock. One day, a bull owned by another neighbor escaped from his field and attacked Ed who was working outside in his yard. Now, if you’re pretty citified, the most exposure you’ve had to bulls is probably the Spanish fighting ring and rodeos. You might even believe the clowns of the latter are more of a threat than a walking steak. So let me explain how a bull attacks someone: the one ton plus animal likes to body slam its target, which will knock said target to the ground nine times out of ten. Once the target is on the ground, the bull proceeds to continue to ram its head, body and front hooves into the target over and over and over until the target has no more bones. Needless to say, it takes awhile and is fatal.

Luckily for Ed (well, as much luck as he could have after somehow getting a bull mad at him**) a bull attack isn’t exactly silent and several neighbors heard what was happening and came running to help. From what I understand, they started shooting the bull. It wouldn’t stop. Neighbors had to keep escalating firepower before they were finally able to stop the beast. If I heard correctly, they started with a pistol, then tried a shotgun, finally someone had to use a high-powered rifle and even that took more than one shot.

Now this story does have a happy ending. Although it was iffy for awhile, Ed ended up recovering and after a long stay in the hospital, is now back home (it helps that decades of hard work have made the guy too tough to die). So what was the point of this story? Only as an answer to those who want to ask “what do you need ___ for?” when it comes to the gun control debate. What do you need “assault weapons” for? Because less firepower only makes the bull mad. Why do you need a greater than 10 bullet magazine? Because those first shots may not slow the bull down.

I will be honest here. Had gun legislation gone through and kept weapons out of the hands of Ed’s family & neighbors, do I think the supporters of such legislation would have wanted Ed to die? Of course not! That’s why such things are called unintended consequences.Because nobody intends them. Heck, during the entire gun legislation debate, I never even considered such a scenario as an argument for the gun rights side. In a country of millions, none of us have any hope to realize every possible scenario on how a law will affect one of those millions.

Thus we should all approach law with humility and the realization that there will be unseen costs to our actions. If we are not willing to pay them, then we should reconsider.

*I hate to make a claim without some evidence (especially with all the hoaxes that happen on the internet) but after a lot of searching, I never could find a local news article covering the incident. I also know how some people can be outright assholes when it comes to people challenging their notions so I’m not giving any more details to allow jerks a chance to harass Ed. (Though do you really want to mess with a guy who survived a bull?) If you’re with a legitimate news organization and would like to verify the story, talk to Hube.

**To this day, nobody knows why the bull hated him so much. Sometimes you just get a nemesis.

Book Recommendation: The Socialist Phenomenon, by Igor Shafarevich

This one isn’t in most public libraries, but you can find it online no problem.  Shafarevich was both a world-class mathematician and a dissident; the book was samizdat.  It’s quite readable, but there are understandably a few stylistic quirks.  The first two sections, for example, are historical, and while interesting, you don’t really need them — Shafarevich acknowledges as much, and puts handy summaries at the end of each section.

His goal is to abstract the essence of socialism from its theory and practice.  We Alt-Realists hardly need a book to tell us that Marxism is an obvious fraud, that “social justice” is equally chimerical (and n.b. this was written in the USSR, in the 1970s!), and so on.  But mathematician Shafarevich follows the logic of socialism out to its horrifying conclusion: Socialism, he says, aims at nothing less than the total destruction of the human personality; when actually put into practice, socialism aims at the annihilation of the human race.

He acknowledges that this is a tough pill to swallow – how can such a nihilistic creed ever have mass appeal?  He suggests Freud’s “death instinct,” and while such a bald statement deeply offends the touchy-feely spirit of our brave new world, you don’t have to spend five minutes among the online Left to see the old cokehead — Freud, not Shafarevich — was onto something.  In 1949, Orwell wrote that Eastasia’s version of Ingsoc translated to “death worship;” nearly 70 years later, it’s obvious that modern Leftism is, as the Z Man often says, a nihilistic death cult.

The Socialist Phenomenon, then, is profitably read as the academic companion to Hoffer’s The True Believer, as they describe the same phenomenon separated by time and culture (the point of Shafarevich’s historical exposition, btw).  True Believers hate themselves so much that they want to destroy their personalities by merging completely with a Whole.  Shafarevich saw his death-worshiping countrymen annihilate themselves inside the Party.  Our Maolings are trying a different tactic: Endless differentiation.  They’re purely negative — no Prog can even begin to tell you what xzhe’s for, but nurtures an endlessly growing list of what xzhe’s against.  The endpoint of the constant micro-calibration of ever more obscure genders, sexual preferences, skin colors, ethnicities, etc. is a being who is totally alone in the universe…. and then pops out of existence like a quark.


— The book is full of interesting side trails.  Blogfather Morgan would like Shafarevich’s argument that Pharaoh was indeed left wing.  Shafarevich is careful to distinguish between what he calls “chiliastic socialism” — the kind that actively seeks the end of the world — and “state socialism,” in which the government controls the means of production.  I see his point, but I still feel that the distinction obscures the unique evil of Leftism.  It’s not about the organization of the means of production; it’s about changing humanity.  After reading Shafarevich, my rule of thumb is: You can tell a left-winger by his attitude towards children.  Should parents be allowed to keep theirs, or should the state take over as much as possible, as early as possible?  Pharaoh didn’t care how his serfs raised their kids — so long as they were around to build his pyramid, it was all good.

— There’s a wonderful tradition of anti-socialist critique out there.  Unfortunately it’s all in Russian, so we only get it secondhand, like this gem from Sergei Bulgakov: “Marxists predict communism like astronomers predict an eclipse… and then immediately form a Party to bring the eclipse about.”

— Finally, socialism has always had a unique version of the free rider problem: Dorks jumping on the bandwagon trying to get laid.  All the chiliastic socialists of the Middle Ages and Reformation preached that “common property” included common wives; Marx and Engels were still getting asked this question — and dodging it — well into the 19th century.  Which makes sense when you look at Bolshevik women.  If that’s your dating pool — and I think we all take it as read that SJWs have zero game — then oh my god yes, let’s socialize sex.  Here again, the best Alt-Realist tactic seems to be: Make fun of these dorks for the dateless wonders they are.


Why Hide?

I saw this nonsense at Cracked


and it got me thinking: Why hide?

No, really — why should I, or anyone else, bother to “sneak” hate speech into conversation?

I thought Trump’s election empowered we haters to fly our freak flag openly.  Every week we hear something about some “bully” saying “Donald Trump!” to some swarthy kid in some junior high somewhere (followed, of course, by the kid getting a full ride to Stanford by writing about it on his admissions essay).

But let’s say we’re still holding back a little, what with you SJWs always trying to get us fired for badthink.  Not to mention the open battles in the streets.  Why, if the stakes are so high, would we dare to slip “dog whistles” into “an otherwise innocous conversation” with the likes of you? ….

…. unless you are somehow giving off the vibe that you’d be open to that kind of talk.  See, that’s how “dog whistles” work.  You slip a loaded word into a conversation with someone you think might just share your affinity.  If they give you a funny look, or don’t remark at all, then haha, it’s just a slip of the tongue old chap, and on you go with the conversation.  But if they respond, well then…. 🙂

Search your feelings, comrade.  You must be doing something to let these haters know you’re at least, shall we say, Alt-curious.  Is it true?  Can it be true?  It must be.  As Stalin said, the most effective wreckers look like the best shock-workers of them all.

Why bother to hide anymore?

The Right’s Reality Problem

In the Dungeons and Dragons game that’s forever playing in their heads, Liberals have gone all-in on “Intelligence.”  They’ve arranged every aspect of their culture — and therefore, since they control the edutainment industry, every aspect of our culture — around the notion that today’s SJW catechism is the Ultimate Grimoire of Scintillating Brilliance.  And it’s semi-plausible — it takes a lot of “education” to be able to “think” like Liberals do, a fair amount of superficial cleverness to come up with a clickbait hot take on command.  And it feels good to be so much smarter than the flyover country rubes.


And that’s our problem right there.  Ever tried explaining things to a toddler?  It’s a special kind of frustrating you’ll find nowhere else.  “No, that doesn’t go in there.  No, it’s not edible.  Look, dude, that’s a square.  The circle is over there.  Over there.  No, that’s the triangle.  That’s the wrong shape, the wrong color, and you’re trying to feed it to the dog.  The circle goes in the circle slot, the square can only fit in the square slot.”  And then you have to do the same thing tomorrow.  It’s great when they finally get it, but it’s not what you’d call rewarding.  It’s exhausting, and once the joy of their little giggle of triumph fades away, you realize that you’ve sorta mastered just one of an endless series of very basic tasks.  “No no, that’s the triangle.  It doesn’t fit there….”

“Arguing” with Liberals is like that, minus the happy little baby giggle.  “No, that doesn’t go in there” should be obvious to anyone with potty training, and yet you can get a PhD in “Gender and Sexuality Studies.”  Recall that tenured professors pull in nearly 100 large for 9 months’ “work,” and you’re back to toddler-level despair.  Some things are just so obvious, they hardly even rise to the level of “facts.”  How in the hell do you teach them to someone who’s doing everything in his considerable power to not learn? And, as every parent knows, the absolute highlight of a toddler’s day is driving his parents to distraction with his refuse-to-learn antics.  That’s Liberalism.  Like toddlers, our petted and cosseted SJWs have entire ecosystems designed to save them from the consequences of sticking the wrong shape in the wrong hole.  They enjoy it, in fact, because not only will they not suffer from doing it wrong, they get all this attention if they do!

If there’s any chance of breaking SJWs out of their toddler mentality short of actual pain — and I’m beginning to give up hope — we must break the link between SJW dogma and “intelligence.”  We need to reintroduce the concept of the absent-minded professor, the educated idiot, the blathering fool who can’t stop pestering people with his useless advice.  Polonius was comic relief back in the 16th century… and ended up getting stabbed.  SJWs are just toddlers who have memorized a series of buzzwords, and — get a load of this!! — paid close to half a million dollars for it.  How “smart” is that?!?  They’re fools educated far past their hat sizes, and should be treated as such.

The Psuedo-Intellectual Myopia of a Trump-Derangement-Syndrome Victim

Our friend and co-blogger Morgan threw out a Matt Walsh quote,

“Tolerance is not a virtue. Diversity is not a goal.”

This makes lefties’ heads explode.

Morgan went on to bring up Chesterton’s Fence, which he instructed us to read up on Ace’s blog.

Left leaning dude chimes in that Morgan must be using Chesterton’s fence to defend Trump’s fence.

Swing and a miss, strike one!  and boy we could feel the breeze from that one in the upper deck behind the third base line.

He said he was struggling with its relevance to … I guess the Matt Walsh quote.

This got me to thinking, and I posted a response that I am posting here … mainly because I think it’s a train of thought worth posting.  So here it is:

If you’re looking for something that has something to do with Trump’s fence, which does not exist, then I would suggest you take a few steps back and shake off your myopia. You are looking too closely.

It has much more to do with the Michael Walsh quote Morgan posted.

I will risk trying to spell something out to somebody who either can’t or won’t see it …

Chesterton’s fence has nothing to do with damned fence. This is a thought exercise where the fence is merely a placeholder. Chesterton’s fence is something that exists that someone who doesn’t know why it exists and doesn’t like it wants to get rid of.

If you don’t know why something that somebody built exists, you MIGHT want to ponder why that somebody or those sombodies built it in the first place in the course of assessing its value.

Of course, when a modern progressive sees a post that questions diversity as a sacred value, they immediately see racists — because that’s what they’ve been taught to see by their clergy.

In this case, the thing that exists is intolerance. Why is there intolerance? What purpose does it serve? If you haven’t thought about this, you have no business instructing us not to tolerate intolerance.   (Never mind that it’s fundamentally hypocritical – an that’s also a clue that might actually get you to start thinking about the purpose it serves).

Diversity is such a catch phrase. If you haven’t considered why every culture has a characteristic realm of relative homogeneity, you don’t understand culture. So you certainly don’t understand its value. And you don’t understand that the whole concept of a “multiculture” is an oxymoron.

Diversity of race is a symptom of a great culture. It is not a cause. Further, the left has conflated (ironically) race with culture, and insist that particular cultures are inherent in particular races, and to reject elements of such a culture is to reject the race. This is an extremely racist worldview. It is dangerous. It is destructive.

Which is why the left embraces it. Postmodernism is about deconstruction, which is a method of destruction. It seeks to destroy what has been built, for it does not see the utility of what has been built. It employs diversion and obfuscation to direct hate at order. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” You can get hundreds or thousands chanting that in a couple of minutes at ANY big leftist rally. They have been taught that mindless destruction is a virtue — and they don’t even realize that is at the core of their worldview.

This is key to fomenting revolution, which is ultimately what the bigwigs behind the left want.

They lemmings don’t learn. They ended up with Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Guevara, Moussilini, Castro, Pol Pot and the like.

Do not destroy what you do not understand. The minions do not understand what it is they are helping destroy. The leaders do … in the case of western civilization, they are destroying obstacles to absolute power for themselves.

Explaining Academia: Loading the Language

Loading the Language. The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichés, which serve to alter members’ thought processes to conform to the group’s way of thinking.

The most self-explanatory of all SJW brainwashing techniques, it’s by far the most common on campus.  In my experience, the recitation of thought-terminating cliches just is academic “communication,” such that it’s all but impossible to tell a parody from the real thing (n.b. that was over twenty years ago!).

Credit where credit’s due, the old Bolsheviks really put some thought into these.  All that stuff about “the forces of production,” “dialectic,” “democracy,” and so on worked quite well to disguise Marxism’s unique evil — we make fun of it now, but calling your secret police-infested shithole “the Democratic People’s Republic of ____” really worked back in the day.  As David Stove pointed out in his phenomenal essay on the phenomenal kangaroo, this type of indoctrination, if done well, will affect your thought processes:

You cannot expose yourself to even a short course of Berkeley’s philosophy, without contracting at least some tendency to think, as he wants you to think, that to speak of (say) kangaroos is, rightly understood, to speak of ideas of kangaroos, or of kangaroo-perceptions, or ‘phenomenal kangaroos.’  But on the contrary, all sane use of language requires that we never relax our grip on the tautology that when we speak of kangaroos, it is kangaroos of which we speak.  Berkeley would persuade us that we loose nothing, and avoid metaphysical error, if we give up kangaroos in favour of phenomenal kangaroos: in fact we would lose everything.  Phenomenal kangaroos are an even poorer substitute for kangaroos than suspected murderers are for murderers.  At least a suspected murderer may happen to be also a murderer; but a phenomenal kangaroo is a certain kind of experience, and there is no way it might happen to be also a kangaroo.

Since it’s obvious that speaking of a kangaroo entails holding some idea of a kangaroo in your head, it’s easy to fall into the habit of regarding that “phenomenal kangaroo” stuff as shorthand… and then he’s got you.  And that’s with a tangible object like a kangaroo.  To see what happens with a much more amorphous concept, again, consider the “Democratic People’s Republic.”  Lenin baldly stated that a revolutionary party could embrace dictatorship in the name of democracy — that’s that “vanguard of the proletariat” stuff, for those keeping score at  home — and liberals everywhere actually bought it, to the point where, as George Orwell pointed out in 1946,

In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Petain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.

That “resistance” bit in the first sentence is important, too — indeed, it’s loaded language’s primary function on campus.  The Liberal Arts study human beings.  There are certain bedrock facts about humans that have always been obvious.  Gilgamesh, say, talks and dresses funny, but he’s recognizably our fellow man, and there are some ancient personalities — Caesar, Marcus Aurelius — whose mental worlds we can inhabit fairly closely with a little effort.  The problem is, inhabiting someone like La Rochefoucauld‘s mental world means looking at your fellow man through the eyes of a jaundiced 17th-century Frenchman… and hearing every word ring true in your ears about yourself and everyone you know.

Since nobody’s going to get tenure saying “every possible human type is right there in Shakespeare,” all of academic production is geared towards denying those basic bedrock facts.  Their secondary purpose is making people who use words like “cisgender” sound smart — at least to themselves — but I can pretty much guarantee you that if you’ve read anything other than Twilight in the last few years, and you hear someone use a word you’ve never encountered before in a political or cultural discussion, it’s a bit of obfuscatory academic bullshit.  The longer and weirder it is, the plainer the fact it’s designed to deny.