2 Legit Part 4

The question in the last post was: How did 19th century America, which had all the Old World’s beefs and the most disgruntled Old Worlders themselves over here stirring things up, end up becoming America?  Why is, say, Greektown a charming place to get some good souvlaki and not a hotbed of ethnic tension?  The former Frontier is full of towns with names like “New Krakow;” why aren’t they feuding with the “New Konigsberg” just down the road (as they would be — still are — back in Europe)?

The last post suggested an answer: Imagined communities and invented traditions.  Or, put simply: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.

“Traditions” are easy to invent.  Current Year America is full of examples, from the smallest to the largest.  Consider Liberals, and their vanguard party, the SJWs.  These people baffle anyone who passed Psych 101.  Isn’t there this thing called “cognitive dissonance?”  Isn’t it supposed to hurt when you believe obviously contradictory things?  Unless it’s only the “woke” who are driving the opioid epidemic, there’s either something wrong with our understanding of CD, or our understanding of Liberals.  (It’s the latter).

We normies look at Liberalism as a set of… well, ideas is stretching it, so let’s say “propositions.”  Propositions like “race is a social construction.”  Taken in isolation, that’s not so strange.  It might even be functionally true*.  But it directly contradicts one of Liberalism’s other dogmas, that race is the only thing that matters.  The only way those two things could possibly harmonize is if we’re getting all worked up about something we know doesn’t exist… which contradicts a third pillar of the Leftist faith, that they’re The Science People.  Does “The Flying Spaghetti Monster” ring a bell?  Ruining people’s lives over made-up crap we know is fake is something only Godbag Christofascists do, amirite?

Instead, look at Liberals as an imagined community.  The “community-based reality” was a fun joke back in the W. Bush years (read the first sentence of that link for a meta-example), but it’s true for all that.  Maybe Millennials missed out on the rah-rah-sis-boom-bah high school experience — too traumatic for the campus ferns or something — but the rest of us remember Friday nights at the stadium.  We weren’t gonna win, and our team wasn’t number one, but there we were anyway, filled with something close to bloodlust.  I can’t stress this enough — nothing is dumber than high school football, but look at how well it works.  Your parents chose to move to the same arbitrarily assigned district at some point in your past, and you’re supposed to be best buddies for life with a large group of random people, because — and only because — their parents also chose to move within the same arbitrarily-defined district at some point in their past.  But… but… but…. Class of ’85 rules!!!!

All the stuff we call “virtue-signaling” is just policing up the boundaries of the imagined community.  Chanting “race is a social construction!” or “there are 37 genders!” on social media is exactly the same as chanting “we’re number one!” down at the stadium.  That race isn’t a social construction, and that there are only two genders, is exactly as relevant as you’re team’s real record (0-8).  The chant — NOT the words of which the chant is composed — is the point.

Which explains all their behavior.  To Liberals, your team’s 0-8 record is irrelevant, because it is irrelevant.  It means exactly nothing that you didn’t win a game, including the big rivalry game to the evil school across town.  For them, politics works exactly the same way.  If it mattered — if the parents of everyone from the losing school got beheaded, Aztec style — then Massachusetts Liberals would take high school football as seriously as Texas conservatives do.  Liberals don’t have to live with the social constructions, which is why they vote how they do.  So long as it’s possible to keep imagining — and facts can intrude a long, looooong way into the fantasy — the imagined community will be more important than any real one.**

The trick, then, is figuring out how to make this work for us.

_____

Baseball is a benign example (European readers, please feel free to substitute “football,” as I suppose the process was the same).  Something like “professional sports” would’ve happened anyway — the leisure class and all that — but baseball, specifically, became the “national game” through savvy marketing.  It was pitched as a “sandlot” game than anyone could play anywhere, at any time, even though that’s not true — soccer and basketball, just to name two, are far less space- and equipment-intensive, plus baseball can only be played in summer (Naismith specifically invented basketball as a year-round sport that could be played with small numbers).  The first baseball heroes were portrayed as everyday joes, even though they weren’t — as several different players point out in The Glory of Their Times (a must-read for any fan, btw), there were proportionally far more college grads playing pro baseball than in the general population.  For every Shoeless Joe Jackson there was an Eppa Rixey, a University of Virginia graduate who was a high school Latin teacher in the offseason.  In an era where the only other popular sport, football, was strictly a college boy’s game, the Shoeless Joes and Dizzy Deans and Honus Wagners were working class heroes — by design.

Once you had that, the rest was easy.  Just as Rixey and Shoeless Joe could’ve peacefully coexisted on the same diamond, so America’s class and ethnic divisions could coexist peacefully in the stands.  You can cue the gooey Ken Burns music here if you’d like, since moron socialists like Burns have been getting moist over the class-leveling effects of baseball since the Gilded Age.  They’re marxoid dopes, but they’re not wrong about this one.

________

You’ll have noticed, of course, that baseball is scalable…. but only if properly done.  It could’ve easily gone the way of English football hooligan culture*** — Pirates fans attacking Phillies fans in the streets whenever their teams play (yeah yeah, I know inter-league play started in 1997; the point still stands).  Why do you think Civil War retrospectives all feature the Blue and the Gray playing baseball (as if it were the same game everywhere), and Union Gen. Abner Doubleday gets the credit for “inventing” it?  Why did the Presidential first pitch start in 1910, just in time for the Civil War’s 50th anniversary?  Why, of all the shots of G.I.s relaxing that photographers could take, do they invariably take pictures of baseball?

“Phillies fan” (or whatever) is constructed as a subset of “baseball fan,” which is constructed as part of American-ness.  Or do you think it’s a coincidence that all the diabetes-inducingly saccharine portrays of baseball — in the movies, in books, on TV — ended early in the Clinton era?  You think Robert Redford would make The Natural (1984) now?  How about Kevin Costner and Field of Dreams (1989)?  Ken Burns’s Baseball was 1994; Major League, The Sandlot… all late 80s or early 90s.  The only Current Year “baseball” movies anyone has heard of — scan that list; ye cats! — are either sappy rom-coms to which baseball is incidental (Summer Catch; Fever Pitch), or glorifications of nerd culture (Moneyball), in which handsome jock Brad Pitt is helpless without a fat dork and his computer.****

You’ll have noticed also, I hope, that this is a possible solution to the legitimacy problem.  That’s the other great thing about baseball — every team has a superfan kid whose fandom is the only thing keeping him going.  He’s excluded from all other forms of social / political participation, but his fandom is reciprocally legitimizing — being a team fan keeps him going, and simultaneously his fandom makes the random collection of mercenary millionaires wearing the jersey this season seem like a meaningful unit……

 

 

*Stipulating, for argument’s sake, that the “superstructure” (as Marxists would say) of culture can override the genetic “base” of behavior.  I personally don’t believe this, but I don’t have the bioscience classwork to argue against it with someone who does.

** Cf. Magic Dirt Theory, Liberals’ explanation for why a horde of 80 IQ Aztec subsistence farmers will turn into 110 IQ customer service reps just by stepping on our side of the Rio Grande.  If America is only an imagined community, this makes sense, since it’s all pretend anyway.

*** Or, at least, the caricatured American understanding of football hooligan culture.  I’ve read Among the Thugs, but I didn’t get the impression this was a mass phenomenon (i.e. that the “firms” are quite small).  Recusant et al, please clue me in here.

**** SJWs are still too busy shitting on Star Wars to go after baseball again, but since white people play it and normies enjoy it, it won’t be long.  Is there a BALCO movie in the chute yet?  They’ll have to cast a white guy as Barry Bonds, but that’s no challenge for the makers of Girl Luke Skywalker (and besides, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens are whiter than mayo on wonderbread).  I bet we’ll be seeing it by 2020, right in time for the Democrats’ white privilege whining for the election.

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9 thoughts on “2 Legit Part 4

  1. Recusant

    “Recusant et al, please clue me in here.”

    What! You want me to work?

    OK. Short version. Football- soccer for colonial cousins- hooliganism was a very short term thing, as applied to clubs; basically 1970-85. With the national team it lasted longer, until about 2004. Essentially it’s a white working class thing, that has died alongside the death of the white working class. You have to remember that English people ( not British, only Americans talk about them, probably so they can claim that English as a language is some abstract thing they happen to speak rather than the language of the people of the same name who whelped them) have always liked a fight, especially when there are some rules attached: you have to be in a ‘team’; death is not a desired outcome; in the end you and your rivals have a greater enemy – the ‘authorities ‘ and their representatives, the police; etc., etc.

    That, however, is all history now. The English, along with the other tribes who occupy these islands, have been domesticated by their betters and don’t dare stick their heads above the parapet any more for fear of being called racist, if verging on the middle class or having their children taken into care if working class.

    Done on my phone, so no apologies for typos, grammar or incoherence.

    Reply
  2. Nate Winchester

    Your parents chose to move to the same arbitrarily assigned district at some point in your past, and you’re supposed to be best buddies for life with a large group of random people, because — and only because — their parents also chose to move within the same arbitrarily-defined district at some point in their past. But… but… but…. Class of ’85 rules!!!!

    Hm. But if you think about it, isn’t that just a description of tribes in general anyway?

    *Stipulating, for argument’s sake, that the “superstructure” (as Marxists would say) of culture can override the genetic “base” of behavior. I personally don’t believe this, but I don’t have the bioscience classwork to argue against it with someone who does.

    I think the issue is that both sides tend to radicalize each other – to the detriment that both become unreasonable and false. One side claims everything is taught, while the other claims it’s all in our genes.

    It seems to me that rather both play on each other and form a tension. Some culture can control our genes, but only so far. Likewise our genes push back against culture – but only so far since part of our genetic makeup is to be a social animal – meaning that our genes want us to go with the herd.

    Think a moment about language and you should get it. Nobody is born knowing language – we have to be taught what to say. But likewise our mouths and our ears place boundaries on our speech – there are some noises we’ll never be able to make and if we did, nobody would hear them.

    Culture may tell us what we can do with our lives or should do with them, but the motivation, the drive to do something with them – that comes from within.

    Reply
    1. Severian

      Hm. But if you think about it, isn’t that just a description of tribes in general anyway?

      No. Tribes are the exact OPPOSITE of that, which is one of the main points of the series (we’ll get there). A school district is an administrative unit, chosen by a remote, unaccountable bureaucracy. Maybe it figures into your moving decision, maybe it doesn’t, but it’s always imposed from without. Nobody is naturally loyal to a school district; you must be MADE loyal. Which is the point of imagined communities and invented traditions — in this case, football and “Class of ’85 rules!”

      People are, of course, naturally loyal to their tribe, because their tribe is full of blood relatives who helped raise them.

      Think a moment about language and you should get it. Nobody is born knowing language

      But we are born with the capacity for language, including the ability to make ALL human sounds (and hear them). But that capacity has to be activated in the right way, by a certain point, or it can’t be — cf. the “wild child” that was a staple of 18th and 19th century anthropology. Acculturation works the same way. Take a group of “wild children” — the kids from Lord of the Flies, except they’re babies who somehow survive infancy. Some kind of culture will form, and it will be a recognizably human culture, but it will be the lowest possible form of human culture (jeez, I sound like E.B. Tylor, but you get the point). Call that the baseline. Will that “wild child” culture eventually, over generations, get to the point where it can do calculus? That’s the rub. Blank-slaters say “yes, of course;” HBD people say “depends on the genes, but probably not.” Where’s the truth?

      Beats me, but for social stability’s sake we’d ALL better say “ummm…. maybe some will, but the others contribute meaningfully to the tribe.” Or else no legitimacy, and you get… part 6 of this series, probably (y’all know I don’t plan this shit, right? It just kinda emerges).

      Reply
      1. Nate Winchester

        No. Tribes are the exact OPPOSITE of that, which is one of the main points of the series (we’ll get there). A school district is an administrative unit, chosen by a remote, unaccountable bureaucracy. Maybe it figures into your moving decision, maybe it doesn’t, but it’s always imposed from without. Nobody is naturally loyal to a school district; you must be MADE loyal. Which is the point of imagined communities and invented traditions — in this case, football and “Class of ’85 rules!”

        Ah ok. Though I could be an annoying stickler and pointed out that history is probably filled with tribes being forced from without. 😉 Like a raiding party forcing a weaker group to move on.

        People are, of course, naturally loyal to their tribe, because their tribe is full of blood relatives who helped raise them.

        Though I’m setting myself up for jokes, I’ll also point out that I’m from Kentucky so in our case, actually our school districts were very often filled with blood relatives – no really, my mom, aunts, cousins, and myself all went to the same elementary and high school (when able, we go back far enough for some of us having attended the elementary school when it also went up to grade 12) where even both of my grandmas worked. Hence why I don’t see much difference.

        Will that “wild child” culture eventually, over generations, get to the point where it can do calculus? That’s the rub. Blank-slaters say “yes, of course;” HBD people say “depends on the genes, but probably not.” Where’s the truth?

        Well that is part of the mystery of humanity because there’s the obvious question: if it’s not in the genes to work out calculus – how does calculus exist? No really, it’s a simple philosophical question. If it’s impossible, then either it was a literal miracle of a higher power that informed us about it, or something happened to change things to make it possible. So then the question is: why won’t the higher power intervene again? Or will that thing that changed never happen again?

        That! That is the interesting thought…

        (I also admit this all strikes me as a bit of Sorites paradox too. That just as you can never really say at what exact point a man is bald, neither will we ever be able to say at what exact point a tribe is civilized – it’s a billion little things that all pile together until one day – you’re civilized.)

        Reply
        1. Severian

          if it’s not in the genes to work out calculus – how does calculus exist? No really, it’s a simple philosophical question.

          I’m glad YOU find it simple, homie! For most of us, ontology is one of the harder parts of philosophy. 🙂

          I see what you mean, though, and that’s why postmodernism, the strong programme [sic] in the sociology of science, etc. are all question-begs. Calculus exists because the universe is made that way. Who or What did the making is an open question, I suppose, but if you deny that Math is part of the fundamental structure of the universe — if, that is, you maintain (as postmodernists do) that it’s all a product of human “discourse” — then the universe itself must be a creation of the human mind (or, at least, of A human mind). Lots of English professors doubtless have the… stones…. to go along with this, but I’m a bit more humble.

          So then the question is: why won’t the higher power intervene again? Or will that thing that changed never happen again?

          Another reason I’m not a postmodernist. If the, or a, human mind is responsible for the world’s creation, well, why not intervene again? If you seriously believe that math — math! The puts-guys-in-rockets-on-the-moon discipline — is just a social construction, then socially constructing a world minus racism etc. should be child’s play. Why don’t y’all get on that? We’ll wait for you while you’re gone, I promise.

          neither will we ever be able to say at what exact point a tribe is civilized

          E.B. Tylor could, and did. But I’m not a Victorian, either — again, it’s because I’m so humble. I pity all the poor people who fall victim to the sin of pride. 😉

          Reply
    2. Frip

      Nate Winchester: “It seems to me that rather both play on each other and form a tension.” Not to be a dick, but it’s always funny when someone phrases a common truism as if it’s an original thought. So on the nature vs. nurture thing, it seems to you, that it’s a little of both? Yeah? Everyone and their little sister thinks that.

      Reply
      1. Nate Winchester

        Well duh, but you seem to have missed the part right before that where I noted opposing sides run to their extremes on the internet and say it’s only one.

        So yes, we do need to be reminded of common truisms – why do you think JBP has gotten so popular?

        Reply

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