Hazing

I was asked to rush a fraternity in college.  Twice, actually.

I didn’t do it.  Part of the reason was financial — I was a scholarship kid without two nickels to rub together, and my parents, similarly nickel-less, would’ve laughed in my face if I’d asked them to pay for it.  The other part, though — at least the first time — was that I simply didn’t want to eat 50 pickled eggs while running laps at 2 in the morning, or whatever the hazing was.

They asked me again next year.  This time, though, the word had come down from on high: No hazing.  Too many liability issues.  And that’s the funny thing: I still couldn’t have afforded it, but I no longer even considered it.  What’s the point of joining a “brotherhood” that lets anybody in?

That no-hazing thing embodies one of the Left’s key insights into human nature.  Men are lost, unmoored, adrft, without any way to sort and rank themselves.  I’ve said many times that “Game” is 75% spergy bullshit, but there’s some real truth to the socio-sexual hierarchy.  Most men are Deltas — the good soldiers, the go-along-to-get-along types who are ok with just following orders, whose self-image rests on knowing their place and excelling within it.  Some men are Alphas, the natural leaders.  Others are Betas, or Gammas, or whatever you want to call them (remember: 75% spergy bullshit).  The point is this: Without some way of evaluating yourself, it’s difficult to know where you fit….

… and since “knowing where you fit” is a key part of the male psyche, the easiest way to neuter a whole group of men is to take away their self-sorting mechanisms.  Oh, we’ll find proxies — we’re problem-solvers — but none of them are as good as plain ol’ head-to-head competition in front of your peers.  Worse, proxy fights can be manipulated.  Read the comments on any “Game” blog — it’s pretty clear that most of those guys have never even seen a vagina anywhere other than on their computer screens, but because there’s no way to empirically verify one’s “notch count,” they carry on like they’re Don Juan…

…which is all part of the neutering plan, comrade.  You don’t have to be a “Game” guru to know that the worst guy to have in any organization is the loudmouth who thinks — scratch that, who knows — he’s the Alpha, but can’t get anyone else to recognize it.  When you get to haze your pledges, it’s easy to see who’s bullshitting.  Take away hazing, and it’s open season for manipulative little weasels to do their thing.  That kind of guy will gleefully burn an organization to the ground, because in his mind, that’s “winning” — if they’d only have put him in charge, none of this would’ve happened!

I was half-kidding with that whole “Sons of Valley Forge” bit… but only half.  If ever Our Thing is going to get off the Internet and out into the real world, it absolutely must develop some kind of real organization — and that organization must have “hazing.”  We don’t have to make newbies do the elephant walk or anything, but the first step to effective political action is getting our balls back… and that involves some self-sorting competition.

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Ghost Runner on Third

Over at the Z Man’s, a discussion of sports veered into how kids used to play in the good old days.  They made an excellent point, that pickup games used to be how kids learned to socialize.  They were, in effect, political education:

Everyone knows the rules of baseball.  But since getting 18 kids together in the same place for any length of time is all but impossible, you had to learn to adjust on the fly — modifying, scrapping, or even inventing rules as the situation dictated.  “We don’t have a right fielder, so hits to right are automatic outs.”  “Jimmy’s Dad is all-time pitcher.”  Or, most commonly, “ghost runner on third.”

The goal wasn’t to win the game; the goal was to keep the game going.  Thus nobody could impose his individual will on the group, but nobody’s opinion could be ignored.  In the same way, nobody could truly dominate, and nobody was so terrible that he couldn’t contribute.  Whatever beefs you had with any of the other kids had to be set aside if you wanted to play, and from this you generally learned that whatever you were fighting about isn’t such a big deal… or you learned that life is full of jerks, and one of the rules’ main functions is to let you get along with jerks long enough to accomplish the goal.

Flexibility within a common cultural framework.  Bending the letter of the law while keeping its spirit.  Functional compromises with jerks.  Baseball really is a metaphor for America, ain’t it?

At least, it was.  There’s no sandlot baseball anymore.  There are fewer kids around, for one thing, but more importantly, their parents are far too invested in their precious little snowflakes to let them get into an un-monitored contest.  What if Little Dakota gets a boo-boo?  Worse, what if Little Dakota’s boo-boo ruins his chances of making the traveling team this year?  (Little Dakota is, of course, a future Major Leaguer according to his parents).

So the government has to step in.  Everything must be Official.  There is no fun but government-sanctioned fun.  Some authority figure is always on hand to adjudicate, and the authority’s imperatives — e.g. getting more genderfluid third graders on the team — always take priority over piffling little matters like “the rules” or “playing the game in the first place.”  Submission to authority is all.

The Soviets, you’ll recall, were all-in on sports… but, ironically, only individual sports.  (The few teams were. of course, thinly-disguised Red Army teams).  Training in isolation, performing in front of just a few (easily influenced) judges… that’s the Communist ideal.  As Z Man’s post notes, youth participation in “sports” is dropping across the board.  I suspect that trend is about to reverse, as the Left rediscovers populism and even nationalism (ask Joe Crowley).  When’s the next Summer Olympics?  That’s always good for advertising cute little White girls in Soviet-style sports like gymnastics.  Swimming, too, I bet will take off soon (the Diversity don’t take well to water).  Plus, an extracurricular is an extracurricular, right?  And as we know, girls have weightlifting teams in high school….

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Popping the Bubble

One of the main things that makes the Left so infuriating to deal with is: they’ve built their whole lives around Sticking It to The Man, which requires constantly denying the obvious fact that they themselves have been The Man for more than half a century.  Jay Carter’s excellent “letter from the Dean” in the previous post is a nice illustration.  This is exactly the kind of thing you’d expect a college Dean to say, IF he were interested in preserving the institution of which he’s in charge.

Real Deans don’t work like that, of course, because they’re Leftists.  As Leftists, they think of themselves as the students’ allies, working to overthrow the racism, sexism, etc. imposed by…. well, by themselves, since they’re in complete control and can run things however they like.  It’s deeply schizophrenic, which is why we Normals assume there must be a scam somewhere.  A scam entails a rational (or, at least, understandable) motive; some kind of perceived benefit to the scammer.  Figure out what it is, we think, and we can send the whole system crashing down.

But there isn’t one.  It’s not a scam.  They really do believe their own bullshit, these ivory tower types.  They’ve figured out a way to split their brains, to build some kind of big beautiful wall between what they know and how they act, such that the sure knowledge they’re protesting themselves never makes it to the other side.

The main way they do it is by blaming life’s imperfection on the vaguest, gassiest thing they can slap a label on.  Thus, the endless outcry against “Capitalism.”  Insofar as “capitalism,” small C, is a thing, it’s a part of human firmware — we’ve been exchanging stuff for other stuff since we stopped swinging in trees, and we’ll be doing it long after we’ve been enslaved by superintelligent apes.  They know it, too — they’re reminded of it every time they charge another Thai/Nigerian/Eskimo fusion brunch on their MasterCards — so they make up some bullshit about “Reification,” which is the process by which “Capitalism” turns “the relations of the means of production” into actual things in the real world.  It’s not that you think Thai/Nigerian/Eskimo fusion cuisine is delicious; it’s that you’re trained to desire it by Big Restaurant, who relies on this Pavlovian conditioning to keep its eeeeevil profits up.

[In the glorious Socialist future, when Capitalism has finally been destroyed, we’ll all be blissfully happy sitting in front of our mud hovels, eating whatever critters are dumb enough to wander into our open mouths].

This is why the university ecosystem is worth studying.  The Left’s Reality-denying dilithium crystals are already overloading on campuses nationwide.  Colleges in big cities, red states, or both can still kinda sorta blame the surrounding are for Utopia’s delay, but in places like California and New England they’re out of excuses.  I once taught in a state where you couldn’t get elected dog catcher running as a Republican.  Even Democratic Presidential candidates didn’t bother campaigning there– not from Hillaryesque hubris, but simply because there was no point.  It’s the kind of place that produces those Gorillas in the Mist-style exposes on the strange and fearsome habits of those legendary beasts, Ordinary Americans.*

Those Us are in a real quandary.  They have to do something, as the higher ed bubble is well on its way to bursting.  Enrollment is down, donations are down, and — to hear them tell it — five out of every three coeds gets raped by the end of freshman orientation.  But — this is their Utopia.  Conservatives might as well be mastodons, so often are they sighted anywhere in the state.  The Leftest part of the Left has been in total control for decades.  They set the admissions policies, run the police forces, staff the kangaroo courts, control the state house.  It’s the closest thing you’ll find in America to a Worker’s Paradise… and, like every other Worker’s Paradise worldwide, the Workers are fleeing in droves.

How are they going to overcome the cognitive dissonance?  They’re shrewd as Shylock when it comes to padding their own paychecks, but the only thing that could possibly save them is acknowledging that The Customer is Always Right…. which is the one thing they’re absolutely incapable of doing.

It’ll be a hoot, but more importantly, it’ll be a lesson.  Find that pressure point, the spot where the bubble’s weakest….. and squuuueeeeeeeeeze.

 

*n.b. I gave you the Iowahawk parody, because I’m cool like that, though Iowahawk himself gives you a link to the original if you’re feeling masochistic.

 

 

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The Pleasures of Life in the Bubble

Unless you’re a very new reader (in which case, welcome!) you know I worked many years in academia.  Reflecting on the joys of life in a college town has helped me to understand a bit about the Leftist mind.

First, and most important, life really is pleasant in a college town — even for a deep-cover shitlord like me.  In a weird way, it might even have been more pleasant for me.  A Leftist has to be outraged by something to feel truly alive, but since the stuff they get outraged about is so cockeyed, so cattywampus to reality, wandering around town and watching the Very Concerned People be Concerned is like constantly being low-grade stoned.  I’ve never been as worked up about anything as these people pretend to be about everything, from the plight of the three-toed stink beetle to the entire planet’s daily weather.  It’s surreal, which means it’s always good for a chuckle.

Moreover, college towns cater to transient populations, so everything is on-demand.  In flyover states, college towns have the only 24-hour anything within 100 miles.  I’m naturally a night owl, and college towns always have somewhere to go at 2 in the morning.  Add to that the “diversity” — which we all know means “different kinds of ethnic restaurants” — and you have the kind of dining / drinking / hanging out options you’d normally only find in a metro five times the size.  Throw in the twitchy schizophrenic panhandlers on every corner, and you can pretend you’re in the bright lights of a big city, but without the crime.

And then there’s the rock star vibe.  College kids don’t know or care about academia’s elaborate pecking order, so even though nobody who mattered in my department knew my name, I still got pointed at on the streets.  It’s an odd fact of student-professor relations that the kid who acts like she’s doing you an enormous favor by deigning to attend your class will fawn over you to the exclusion of all other customers if she’s your waitress or barista.  (It’s extra fun to scandalize ’em by ordering something alcoholic).  You’re never anonymous in a college town, and if you’re the kind of person grew up getting ignored — if you’re a mousy little nerd, in other words, like all academics are — it’s heady stuff.

But best of all is the power.  One of the main reasons Leftists have such difficulty telling the difference between “fact” and “opinion” is that they’ve never had to practice.  This was true even back before Standardized Tests took over completely, but now that they have, your classroom pronouncements might as well be the Ten Commandments.  I could tell a class that Napoleon’s last words at Waterloo were “Led Zeppelin rules!” and they’d copy it down without a peep…

….then spit it right back at me, verbatim, on the test.  Which proves what a great professor I am — after all, everyone is acing the final exam!  They must really get it, that Patriarchy is bad and Capitalism is exploitation and &c.

In a college town, in other words, every minute of every day is an opportunity to be smugly self-righteous.  Who could resist?  And if the rest of the world isn’t like a college town, then it must be someone’s fault!

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A Public Service Announcement

Via Ace of Spades, a link to Investopedia’s breakdown of the Labor Theory of Value.

Marxism is a literally sophomoric philosophy.  As in, it makes sense when you’re 14 and have no experience of the real world.

Marx was drawn to the labor theory because he believed human labor was the only common characteristic shared by all goods and services exchanged on the market. For Marx, however, it was not enough for two goods to have an equivalent amount of labor; instead, the two goods must have the same amount of “socially necessary” labor.

Marx used the labor theory to launch a devastating critique against free market classical economists in the tradition of Adam Smith. If, he asked, all goods and services in a capitalist system are sold at prices that reflect their true value, and all values are measured in labor hours, how can capitalists ever enjoy profits unless they pay their workers less than the real value of their labor?

Thus illustrating another favorite “argument” tactic of the bright-but-clueless, petitio principii (begging the question).  Starting with the premise that capitalism is exploitative (i.e. “socially necessary labor”), Marx arrives at the conclusion that…. capitalism is exploitative.

That every single Very Smart Person with a PhD is a Marxist tells you everything you need to know about Very Smart People.

 

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What is to Be Done

Tying the various threads from the “legitimacy” and “imagined community” discussions together, you get the following:

To avoid genocidal civil strife, you need a new civic nationalism, one that:

  • is organic;
  • recognizes the reality of HBD without turning into a (hard) caste system;
  • has the sanction of (invented) tradition to pull disparate elements together; and
  • can be imposed top-down on an armed society without (or with minimal) armed pushback.

A tall order, to be sure.  But I think it can be done.  One way to do it is to go Counter-Reformation style.  A Church of America, that looks high-Anglican and preaches a more broadly-applicable Muscular Christianity.  (Before you start hitting the caps lock key about MUH CONSTITUTION!, puh-leaze.  The Constitution is deader than disco.  Nothing could be clearer than the 2nd Amendment, yet here we are.  It’ll be child’s play to penumbra and emanation the 1st.  They somehow got an ironclad right to abortion out of the 4th amendment (“unreasonable searches and seizures”) and gay marriage out of the 14th; rewriting the 1st is a slam dunk — it’s not a law requiring membership in the Church of America,  it’s a tax on not belonging to the Church of America).

This reverses 50 years of race and gender claptrap at a stroke.  If you actually bother to read the damn thing, the Bible’s pretty clear: All men are equal in God’s eyes, but here on earth, the poor, halt, sick, lame, etc. ye have always with you.  Paul spends a lot of time enjoining us to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves — a ringing endorsement of the fundamental inequality of men.  And as for the fundamental inequality of women, you’ve got that whole “be submissive to your husband” thing (which is, of course, an out for tankgrrrl careerists who still think they want to make partner at the law firm before settling down: No husband, no problem.  You just have to accept that you’ll be sitting in the back pews with the rest of the spinsters).  As for sermons, just dust off Dwight Moody‘s greatest hits.  Jesus’s self-control, manly fortitude, and big bulging carpenter muscles will keep ’em glued to the seats.  So long as the thing is high-church theatrical, you’re good.

You might object that the Left will never get on board… but the Left, as we all know, is a religious cult, and not one of the milder ones.  You get them on board by making them the guardians of the esoterica.  Set them up as modern-day Jesuits.  (What’s the difference between a Jesuit and an atheist?  At least the atheist is honest about it).  There’s a reason the word “jesuitical” has been an epithet almost since the founding of the Society of Jesus.  Let the ex-Left be Holier (and, of course) Smarter than thou — in their cloisters, a.k.a. the universities.

You’ll need an Inquisition, of course, and your ex-Left will shine there, too (remember, today’s SJW is tomorrow’s obergruppenfuhrer).  But with the Internet and all, heretics practically denounce themselves…

The best part of all this is that it takes modern day pieties — and the social policies that accompany them — and turn them strictly to the benefit of Americans (whoever that ends up being).  It’s the Church of America, not the Unitarians.  You want to be a utopian universalist, fine, there are plenty of denominations that will have you… outside the walls.  Otherwise, you can vent your crusading impulses here at home, with our very own CofA Crusaders — evangelizing the heathen within our borders, the way the Salvation Army used to do (plenty of opiate addicts to missionize, not to mention the ghetto bangers).  You get all the upside of Communist class warfare, with very little of the downside (though we have some very nice Arctic terrain in need of cultivation if it comes to that; the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge and Labor Reformatorium has a nice ring to it).

So long as the Church of America’s charter makes saving American souls priority number one, it’s all good.  The rest of the world will need to get a new sugar daddy, it’s true, but the PRC is more than up for the challenge (best of all, all those who griped about American imperialism will get to experience the real thing, good and long and hard).  It’ll be a police state, sure, but it’ll be fairly nice as police states go.  At least you’ll be able to walk down the streets at night — and hear English while you do it!

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Building an Imagined Community 5: “Civic Nationalism”

As we’ve seen, one of the big problems with the notion of “imagined communities” / “invented traditions” is that it these may well be just convenient descriptions of naturally-occurring processes.  All communities are, in a very real sense, imagined.  Even a tribe sees itself as a tribe, a distinct unit, different from all others, tapping into something that makes it distinctive — its tribe-ness, if you will, given to it by the Great Spirit or its Totem Animal or what have you.  Similarly, all traditions are invented — the Great Spirit may have told the First Man how to perform all the rituals of propitiation somewhere back in the mists of time, but the Great Spirit itself made them up, inside chronological time.

For example, see all those “adoption” narratives the cultural anthropologists used to rave over.  Hawkeye was born White, but he’s real Mohican nonetheless — he went through all the rituals, tapped into the tribe-ness that makes a Mohican a Mohican.  An imagined community, full of invented traditions.  (That’s why looking at Communism is so useful.  Nothing could be further from the messy world of Man than Hegel’s gassy Spirit gunk.  Marx’s whole schmear is an invention, top to bottom, so it’s easy to see what it got right, and where it went off the rails).

The problem in the real world, though, is: It’s very easy to mistake the bedrock reality of the process for the verbiage you use to describe it.  Which is where the “civic nationalists” go wrong.  When they say that America is a “proposition nation,” they’re right.  But when the Vox Day crowd say that America was always supposed to be an Anglo-Saxon ethno-state, they’re right, too.  “Our” forebears* did what Hobsbawm, Ranger, and Benedict Anderson did (what we all do): Encoded their assumptions into their language.  Jefferson didn’t have to include a long list of qualifiers when he wrote “all men are created equal,” because nobody would’ve challenged it.

Nobody, not even as a wild three-bong-hits-to-the-wind thought experiment, would’ve suggested applying the Declaration’s rhetoric to Indians (feathers or dots), Mexicans, Chinese, or Zulus.  This is because the Founders were working from 1,000 years of Christian common law tradition.  English and French may hate each other, but they’re both members of a meta-community: Christendom.  Zulus, Chinese, etc. obviously aren’t, and in 1776 the impulse to missionize the heathens was just a gleam in John Wesley’s eye.  So, “all men” definitely means “all White, free-born, property-holding men,” and it probably means “Anglo-Saxon men,” but it sure as hell doesn’t mean “any ragged specimen of homo sapiens sapiens who manages to drag his carcass onto our dirt.”

Civic nationalism only works, in other words, if you’ve already got a nation.  You can make Irishmen, Poles, Swedes, and Italians into Americans with baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet by invoking the norms of the Christian meta-nation, a.k.a. Western Civilization.  It doesn’t work because of the talismanic power of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet; it works because you’re putting a slightly different coat of paint on the same basic chassis.  (So, too, with Hawkeye — he shares the Mohican value system and worldview long before he becomes an “official” Mohican).

None of this should be new information to anyone who’s been paying attention.  The problem, though, is that we haven’t thought through the implications.  Short of civil war — and, as a logical consequence of it, genocide — we’re going to have to come up with some kind of “civic nationalism” that can bind people of very different backgrounds together.  Baseball, Chevy etc. aren’t going to cut it, and again — unless you like your genocide with a side order of caste system — HBD isn’t going to cut it, either.

It can be done, at least short term — look at the USSR.  The question we have to answer is, how to make it hold up long term?  (Can it hold up long term?)

 

 

*Remember, Vox Day claims to be both a Mexican and a Red Indian; somehow he translated his “they have to go back” mantra into self-deportation to…. Italy.  Makes sense.

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Friday Quick Take: The News as Standardized Test

In an offline discussion today, e-migo (and should-be Rotten Chestnuts blogger, hint hint) Nate Winchester made a great observation:  Kids today — which means, effectively, anyone who is in college or wishes he were — respond to news “stories” as if they were standardized test questions.  For instance, you read some piece in which an African-American is mentioned.  The story may not even be about him, but his name isn’t immediately followed by hosannas.  Do you:

  • a) assume he’s somehow germane to the story (e.g. it’s about a fatal car crash and he’s a witness);
  • b) figure he’s there for some other news-worthy reason;
  • c) not care, because you “don’t see race;” or
  • d) start yelling “rayciss!”

The answer, of course, is D, and since your whole life, K-thru-PhD, is controlled by standardized tests, you know it unthinkingly.  Why or how is the story racist?  Doesn’t matter — there’s a Black guy, he’s not the Reverend Doctor so-and-so, ergo the coverage is racist.

The Last Psychiatrist is sadly long defunct, but it still exists, and is worth reading in full.  He spends a lot of time breaking down ad campaigns and news stories, always with one simple point: They’re not teaching you what to want, they’re teaching you how to want.  Here‘s a fantastic example.  It’s about an ad campaign in which a young boy gets his toenails painted hot pink by his Mom (who, in the ad, is the president of J. Crew).  The usual suspects got incensed in the usual way: “the ad is promoting transgenderism!”  Alone (the author’s nom de blog) breaks down just how and why this is wrong.  The ad isn’t about the kid.  It’s not even about selling nail polish, let alone “raising brand awareness” for J. Crew.  Rather, the Mom is the product.

The woman in the ad is attractive but not in a vulgar, sexual way.   Supremely comfortable with herself, her life.  It seems effortless.  And she’s the president of J Crew.   And she has her son with her.  She’s the product.  The image.  You don’t like the polish, fine, J Crew has other stuff to make you into her.  In other words, she is you, the aspirational you….

She’s the product, all those things around her are accessories.  The polish is an accessory, and its color has been enhanced to better broadcast the message.  The kid is an accessory, and he’s been enhanced to broadcast the message.  Clean, vibrant, simple, alive, happy, fun…

“But now there’s a possibility the kid may become gay, or transgendered.”  The word you focused on is transgendered, the word J Crew wants you to focus on is possibilities.  The kid with the painted nails is young, doing something out of the norm.  He embodies possibilities, so J Crew embodies possibilities.

See what I mean?  It’s an ad, but it doesn’t even bother trying to sell a product.  It sells a lifestyle, a message — it sells you a self-image.  You’re the kind of effortlessly-attractive-even-on-the-weekend woman who, if you choose to have kids, would have one who…. etc.

The news, as Nate says, does the same thing.  You’re the kind of person whose anti-racism deflector shields are always turned up to full power, because you’re the kind of person who always knows The One Right Answer.  You tested at grade level on you NAEP test, didn’t you?  Aced the SAT (or would have, if not for reasons)?  Since America is a two-parent household and the other parent is TV, you get a pat on the head and a cookie every time you get one of these questions right.

Gotta love Pavlovian conditioning.

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Building an Imagined Community 4: Paranoia

As we’ve noted, universalism works well in a revolutionary situation, but the hate it generates — no matter how well “otherized” — tends to come back and bite you.  That’s because hate is not an abstract emotion.  It has to be released every now and again onto something tangible…. but every time you let it off the chain, the harder it is to leash it back up.  The end result is paranoia — a steep “purity spiral” that ends in chaos.

There are lots of examples.  To stick with Communists for a second, you’ve got the full catalog of Stalinist and especially Maoist paranoia.  Wreckers, capitalist-roaders, Right-deviationists, Left-deviationists, trade unionists, syndicalists, anarchists, Trotskyists, Bukharin, Plekhanov, Liu Shaoqi, Tito, the Gang of Four…. in short, Emmanuel Goldstein.*  There’s no coming back once you start down this road — it took a few decades, but the USSR was toast after Khruschhev’s “secret speech” in 1956; Maoism after the Cultural Revolution (which was, in part, a direct reaction to the secret speech).

In case you haven’t taken a Communist History course lately — a history of CommunismI mean, not history taught by Communists, which is every history class, K-thru-PhD — you can just look around at the local nuthouse, a.k.a. any campus in America.  They start with this stuff in elementary school now.  Privilege.  Making up your own pronouns.  Cis-anything.  No one is so #Woke that a rival can’t get #Woker at your expense.  Remember: The first guy to stop clapping after Dear Leader gets done speaking is hauled out back and shot.

The apotheosis of this is the “rape culture” that exists on American college campuses… and absolutely nowhere else.  Rotherham? Not a rape culture.  Hollywood?  Not a rape culture.  But some drunk college guy accidentally calls his professor “Miss” instead of “your wingless golden dragonkin-ness”?  That’s practically the Red Army in Prussia.  Women are more socially attuned than men; therefore, they are more paranoid than men.  A mostly male society (like the aforementioned Red Army) might eventually reach a weary compromise over not ratting each other out to the Authorities.  A mostly female society never will.  And since we’re all required to be chicks now wherever our schoolmarms have influence — which is pretty much everywhere — you get the steepening purity spiral we’re in now.  Our Cultural Revolution started about the same time as Mao’s… and, I fear, will have to get much bloodier than Mao’s before it stops.

But it will stop.  It has to.  Ask the Chinese.  Look at their solution — that’s at least part of the way to do “imagined community” right.

 

*Rotten Chestnuts will award the Order of Lenin, Third Class, to anyone who identifies the joke in this sentence.
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Building an Imagined Community 3: Jargon

One thing the Commies did all the way right was to invent a language for themselves.  Socialist writing is instantly recognizable:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

That’s George Orwell’s parody of Ecclesiastes 9:11 (“the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong”), and it’s dead on.  Commie prose has declined in tandem with everything else, but you can still bet your britches that anyone using the phrases “objective considerations” (today expressed as “the facts have a liberal bias”) or “innate capacity” (now spelled “racist”) is a marxoid.  Learn to write as if this is your native tongue, and you can have a PhD in the Humanity of your choice.

No, seriously.  You simply can’t express Leftist “thoughts” any other way, for three important reasons:

First, and most important in Orwell’s day, is deception — particularly self-deception.  As Orwell says, one simply can’t write “I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so.”  Liberals are all about the peace, love, and understanding, don’t you remember?  So you have to write :

While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.

It’s obvious to everyone but the writer what this means, but as Orwell says, taping together stock phrases in this way allows you to write (almost) unthinkingly.  It’s not just that “eliminating unreliable elements” sounds so much nicer and cleaner than “shooting dissidents in the back of the neck, or sending them to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps,” even though everyone knows that’s how the Soviets eliminate their undesirable elements.  That added layer of abstraction gives you the necessary psychological distance to order up obvious barbarities, because it gives you a cutout, a way to blame the obvious consequences of your “suggestions” on the guys who actually carry them out.  “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” of course means “go stab Thomas Beckett,” but when it actually happens — when the turbulent priest lies dead in his own blood — you’re free to change your mind if the guilt really gets to you.  “No no, I just meant that someone should sit Beckett down for a good talking-to!  You awful murderer!”

The second reason you can’t express “Leftist” thoughts except in Leftist jargon is mystification.  This is the public face of self-deception, the “theory,” if you will, behind the practice of “eliminating unreliable elements.”  Marx himself was no mean mystifier, but the outcome of his theory is dreadfully clear — you don’t get to the Communist Utopia without Revolution, comrade, and you can’t have a Revolution without killing lots and lots of people (even President Muntu’s bloodless coup was all smotherings).  But your average Marxist is a 95 lb, genderfluid, soy-enfeebled twerp whose daughter outbenches him.  Even the iPod-addled, Twitter-enstupidated denizens of a modern college classroom would laugh in their professor’s tattooed, nose-ringed, dreadlock-framed face if she tried to lead them to the barricades.  Hence the mystifying jargon.  “She can’t really mean that, can she?  I mean, just look at her!  Better just copy it down in the blue book and forget it,”

Jargon’s third function — by far the most important from the imagined-community-building standpoint — is tribalization.  Since this is the Internet, I assume you’ve all played a video game before.  The easiest way to turn an occasional video game player into a Gamer is by making the game the source of esoteric, yet initially accessible, knowledge.  Guys who consider Dungeons and Dragons to be hardcore nerd stuff, who would happily shove D&D players into lockers if that wouldn’t get them a lifetime’s worth of Thought Reform, will still spend endless hours obsessing over role playing games.  The difference being, their RPGs contain “real” RPGs — rocket-propelled grenades.  THAC0 is for fags, but they can rattle off detailed technical specs for a BR85 Heavy Barrel Service Rifle.

Marxist jargon works like that.  Communism’s basics are pretty easy — see, for example, The ABCs of Communism.  That’s a real book, written by two big hitters in the Bolshevik Revolution, and it’s remarkably clear.

When we say ‘commodity production’ or ‘production for the market’, what does the phrase mean? It means that individuals work for one another, but that each produces for the market in his own enterprise, not knowing beforehand who will buy his wares. Let us suppose that there are an artisan named John and a peasant named George. John the artisan, a bootmaker, takes boots to the market and sells them to George, and with the money which George pays for them he buys bread from George. When John went to the market he did not know that he would meet George there, nor did George know that he would meet John; both men simply went to the market. When John bought the bread and George bought the boots, the result was that George had been working for John and John had been working for George, although the fact was not immediately obvious. The turmoil of the market place conceals from people that in actual fact they work for one another and cannot live without one another. In a commodity economy, people work for one another, but they do so in an unorganized manner and independently of each other, not knowing how necessary they are to one another. Consequently, in commodity production, individuals stand in definite relationships one to another, and what we are here concerned with is these mutual relationships.

John and George, the cobbler and the peasant, going to the market.  What could be easier?  But the clever comrade then asks, “but where did George get the money to buy John’s boots in the first place?”  The even cleverer comrade asks why, if John and George lived so close together that they could both walk to the market, they couldn’t just make arrangements to swap their products as soon as they were done?  Why does “the market” exist in the first place?

That’s how you sift apparatchiks out of the general population.  The answers to those questions, of course, involve the Forces of History and Dialectical Materialism and other such Capital Letter Stuff.  Master those — memorize your Engels, study your Lenin — and you can go all the way to the top of the system, justifying every abrupt 180 degree Hitler-appeasing switcheroo as the distilled essence of Marxism.

That’s how you build an imagined community, comrades.  Because, of course, just as guys compete in video games, not just over who has the higher kill count, but over mastery of esoterica, so apparatchiks compete with each other over who is the most faithful to the Scriptures.  Might makes right, of course, but justifying the might is what elevates the tinpot dictatorship of El Caudillo del Momento to a Democratic People’s Republic.  As the leader of an imagined community, if you want to die in bed (of old age, needless to say, and not by smothering), you have to do something like this.

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