Monthly Archives: November 2018

Random Thoughts

1856, not 1860.  The Democrats won tenuous control of the House last night, so I suppose the civil war will be delayed a few years.  As I said yesterday, it’s not a question of IF the Left starts shooting, only when.  They now have sufficient ability to be pains-in-the-ass enough that they don’t feel forced to go to the gun… yet.  But the lunacy will come fast and furious now.  The day is not far off, kameraden, when we’ll look back on 2016 as a sane, peaceful golden age.

As the Z Man pointed out yesterday, a Democrat-controlled House pretty much guarantees Trump’s re-election in 2020.  He’s at his absolute best playing rope-a-dope with lunatics, and the larger, dumber, browner, even-more-hormonal cat ladies of the new-look Democratic Party are the dopiest dopes to ever chase a rope.  All “investigations” of Trump to date have revealed far more dirt about the Democrats than the President, and since it’s obvious to anyone paying attention that none of 2016’s shenanigans could’ve happened without the active collusion of Barack Obama, he has a much better hand than his opponents.  I’d say that the Dems are about to learn the cardinal rule of poker — if you can’t spot the sucker in your first 15 minutes at the table, then you’re the sucker — but that implies the Dems are capable of learning anything.  If you enjoy the spectacle of all-out human folly, as I do, these are heady times indeed…

Wilmot Proviso.  ….or not.  I love a good train wreck as much as the next gleeful sadist, but the neverending march of feckless stupidity just grinds me down.  Barbara Tuchman had her flaws as a pop historian, but a way with a title wasn’t one of them.  The March of Folly is the greatest title for a history book ever penned, because it pretty much describes History entire.  You can’t study the history of anything for too long before you conclude that the real driver of man’s fate isn’t God, or the forces of production, or class conflict, or the clash of ideologies — it’s vapid, hubristic Dunning-Kruger cases getting bored.

Take the Mexican War.  It was obvious to everyone, certainly including the Mexicans, that the United States was going to attack Mexico.  James K. Polk practically ran on it in 1844, and by 1846 everything was ready.  The fact that this was naked aggression, and that the supposed casus belli — the strip of Texas between the Brazos and the Rio Grande — is obvious bullshit to anyone who’s ever been there, didn’t even register.  Everyone wanted to throw some weight around, and Mexico — just then getting over one of its periodic revolutions — was convenient.

Until David Wilmot added his famous Proviso.  He tacked it onto an appropriations bill, the sneaky bastard, so that in order to get their splendid little war, everyone had to put their cards on the table.  The Mexican War was a war for slavery; the vote on the Proviso made it obvious to even the dimmest-witted.  After all, the vote was taken just three months into the war — American troops were barely arriving in the theater, much less actually winning on the battlefield.  The fact that nobody cared — that Congress got out of the Proviso with procedural shenanigans — showed just how badly inertia had already set in.  Events were going to take their course.

Last night’s election strikes me as a Wilmot Proviso type scenario.  Over the next two years, everyone will have to put their cards on the table for everyone to see.  It should be momentous… but it’ll pass unremarked.  Congress will do what it does with procedural shenanigans; Trump will do what he does by executive order, and nothing will get done.  We voted for things to continue as they are… and they will, God help us.  The political theater will be train-wreckily entertaining, but nothing of consequence will happen in the legislature.

John Brown moments.  Which it never does, you know?  If you look at the run-up to the Civil War — the first one, I mean — you see Congress, the President, the whole political class, desperately doing nothing.  Stephen Douglas was the best politician of the era, but even he could only kick the can down the road for a few more years.  The People had other plans, as it always does, and eventually some lunatic decided to take matters into his own hands, as they always do.  At least your John Brown moments are fairly easy to recognize.  At some point, the lunatics are going to let one of their own take the stand after committing some atrocity, and then it gets really fun.

The Hardest Truth.  I’ve written about this before, but I’m starting to think it’s the only truth about humans worth stating in these latter days:  People can’t handle ease.  Human culture reached its apex in London in 1911.  Adolf Hitler and Virginia Woolf both said that the Modern world began in that year, and since that’s the only thing those two could possibly agree on, it must be right.  We lived at the glorious apex of the human race for three years… then our civilization committed suicide, because we were bored.  But it was Arkansas-style suicide — having shot ourselves in the heart in 1914, we shot ourselves in the head, just to make sure, in 1992.  The long twilight struggle with the Soviet Union was over, so to celebrate, we elected a slavering poonhound and his harridan gangster wife to guarantee we never got anything out of the victory.  Better an end with horror than a horror without end, amirite?

The Postmodern State.  If you follow Hobbes, like I do, you believe the State’s sole purpose is to provide physical security to its citizens.  But I’m starting to think that’s wrong.  Hobbes, like all Modern thinkers, faced the problem of legitimacy — a Modern state requires modern arms to defend it, which requires more buy-in from the citizenry than Divine Right Monarchy can get.  But we don’t have modern arms anymore; we have postmodern arms.  There will never be another mass-conscription, saturation-bombing, ships-lost-with-all-hands kind of war — the West lacks the political will, and though the East has the political will, they can’t defend against nuclear weapons.  If they attacked, the West would lose… but long before acknowledging the loss, they’d push The Button, and that would be that.

Either way, the West’s physical security isn’t militarily threatened.  No Red Army boot will ever step on American soil.  It’ll either be localized, distant, low-intensity conflicts, or the end of the world.  We could easily keep on losing all the wars we’re currently losing, plus a few more, with a military half the size of our current one.  Eventually we’re going to figure that out, taxes being what they are.  And then what?

There are alternatives to classical political theory, ones that grant legitimacy to the ruling power sufficient to keep the State running, but they’re not in English.  One is Volksgemeinschaft.  Another is kokutai.  The downside: They entail a police state, pretty much by definition.  The upside: We’re in a police state already; most of us just don’t acknowledge it yet.  If there’s an alternative that doesn’t boil down to straight-up African-style Big Man gangsterism, I surely don’t know what it is.  Guess we should start looking into that, eh?

 

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My First Post-Retirement Election Day

In Evan Maloney’s fun little campus-bashing documentary Indoctrinate U, there’s a psychology prof who’s been outed as a conservative (and, of course, harassed out of employment and blackballed from academia, because Liberals are all about the dissenting viewpoints and how dare you suggest otherwise!!!).  Maloney then interviews several of her former students:

“Oh yeah,” they say, “we all knew.”  He asks them just how they knew, and they all reply with a version of “because she was the only professor we had who didn’t go off on political rants all the time in class.”

Which is how all but the deepest-cover shitlords get blown.  Unhinged political rants are so common in academia, in every class from the loopiest Angry Studies seminar to the hardest of STEM labs, that simply not acting like an SJW lunatic during class time is unusual enough to get you noticed.  It’s like being the first guy to stop clapping for Dear Leader at a North Korean politburo meeting.*

If I were still teaching, I’d be the only guy not all but physically dragging my students to the polling station today.  Thus, I’d be outed.  I thought my time had come on November 9, 2016, when I was the only guy on campus over the age of 22 who didn’t look like I wanted to slit my wrists, but somehow nobody dimed me to the Thought Police.  I’d like to say that’s because I was one of those inspiring Dead Poets’ Society-type motherfuckers, but in reality, it was probably just shell shock — the NPCs’ wires were still too fried to even notice that I wasn’t wearing sackcloth and ashes.

After two years of Trump, there’s no way that’s happening today.  If I were teaching now, I’d be reported.  However today’s vote turns out, thank you  Jesus for early retirement.

 

 

 

*It’s a mark of Orwell’s genius that he even thought this through.  I always wondered why the put a time limit on the Two Minutes’ Hate…. until I realized that, Stalinists being Stalinists, no work would get done otherwise; they’d keep ranting until they dropped from exhaustion (and the first guy to pass out would probably still get shot).
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“Weapons-Grade Philosophy”

We were discussing art, philosophy, and national character in the last post.  I know, I know, that’s pretty damn pretentious for a post that ends with a picture of Batgirl, but it’s true for all that.  Contrariandutchman came up with the phrase “weapons-grade philosophy” to describe the stuff that Europeans seem so good at — and so good at keeping contained — that we poor Colonials aren’t, and don’t….

…or maybe not.  Either way, to talk about this stuff, we need some definitions.*  I propose the following:  Art is an attempt to say something true about the human condition.  Philosophy is an attempt to discover the Truth in itself.

Trite?  I suppose.  But it’s a start.  For one thing, it gives us a relatively “objective” measure for determining both if a given piece is art (philosophy), and, if so, is it good or bad.  For example, this:

It’s art, and it’s bad.  It’s art because it is trying to say something true about the human condition.  It’s bad art, not because of any flaw in the artist’s technique, but because what it’s trying to say is false.  Just as one drop of raw sewage turns even a barrel of the finest wine into sewage, so even the most technically excellent art is mere propaganda if it doesn’t say something true.

Obviously this means comprehensibility is key, and this is where “weapons-grade philosophy,” like Modern art, loses a lot of us.  Just as I can’t tell what the hell the artist is trying to do here

I can’t make heads or tails out of Hegel, or Heidegger, or the whole lot of Froggy Incomprehensibles.    If nothing else, then, their works are bad philosophy, since the Truth is accessible to all rational minds.

[And here’s where the drive-by neckbeard chimes in: “How do you know it’s bad if you don’t understand it?  Maybe you’re just to stupid to see blah blah blah.”  Stow it, Junior.  I spent a lot of years in grad school; I speak at least Conversational PoMo.  More to the point, I understand the “for Dummies” presentation of their thoughts just fine… and the fact that an educated person needs a “for Dummies” presentation confirms that there’s something seriously wrong with their philosophy.  Nietzsche, for instance, said everything Foucault said, and while the Manly Mustache Man’s conclusions might be hard to stomach, no educated person has ever had the slightest difficulty with Nietzsche’s prose.  Foucault’s stuff is bafflegab, stem to stern].

This not to say there’s nothing to Hegel et al.  It’s a cheap joke that there’s no opinion so absurd, that some philosopher has not held it, but it’s not true.  Every philosophy has a kernel of Truth in it.  Just to stick with one name, Hegel was on to something with that thesis-antithesis-synthesis stuff.  The Logical Positivists would have you believe that there are only three ways thought can go wrong: Contingent falsity, self-contradiction, and meaninglessness.  But the most level-headed of the Logical Positivists wrote a wonderful essay disproving that, and he ends up throwing his hands in the air: “Hegel just is different from Plotinus, and again from Foucault, and so on.”

The reason this stuff matters is: “Weapons-grade philosophy” has broken containment.  Contrariandutchman notes that Europeans generally don’t have a problem with this stuff — guys like Foucault, Camus, et al fairly obviously don’t take their own bloviation seriously (Camus, you’ll recall, is the guy who spent a lot of his long, rich, famous life proclaiming that the only real question in philosophy is suicide.  Life is so obviously pointless, this celebrity proclaimed, that if we were consistent we’d simply off ourselves.  Camus died in a car crash, on his way to his publishers’).  The problem is, guys on Europe’s fringes do take this stuff seriously — Lenin and Barack Obama, just to name two.  For guys like that, absurdity is a feature, not a bug, of Continental philosophy.

Are there any worthwhile American philosophers, under the definitions I’ve suggested?  Any great American artists?  I dunno, but we’d better find some — as we slide further and further into decadence, the more appealing this kind of nonsense gets.  We need to chase it back across the Atlantic, where Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys and their enablers can play around with it for as long as Monsieur le Taxpayer is willing to foot the bill.  It’s weapons-grade, all right — this stuff will get you killed.  Ask any kulak.

 

 

*Did you know Ayn Rand her own self once tried to come up with an Objectivist aesthetics?  Seriously — I came across a battered old copy of The Romantic Manifesto somewhere in the university stacks back in grad school.  It’s as hilarious as it sounds.  I love bringing it up to Libertarians.
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