Monthly Archives: May 2019

Blame the Eggheads, Part III

There’s another reason our “intellectuals” are the way they are, of course: They chose it.

Now we’re getting to the useful part.

Because its goals were impossible, The Revolution didn’t go as planned.  For every two self-deluded fools who thought the Soviet Union was a new civilization, there were five who knew exactly what the Communists were about.  Bomb-throwing anarchists had terrorized European cities for years before 1917, and Red atrocities during the Civil War were no secret.  It was obvious to anyone who cared to look, then, that horrors like the White Sea Canal were features, not bugs, of Communism.

If you’ve read your Festinger, you know what happened next.  The True Believers searched frantically for any “explanation” that wouldn’t invalidate their precious Marxism, and Antonio Gramsci gave it to them.  Though he didn’t coin the term “false consciousness” (Georgy Lukacs did), Gramsci weaponized it.  The reason the Bolsheviks are forced to do all that awful stuff — which we don’t admit they actually did! — is that The People lack the proper revolutionary consciousness.  They still believe in stuff like “God,” “free speech,” “not getting starved to death while the Party fatcats drive around in limos,” etc.

And where do they get this “false consciousness,” comrades?  Why, it’s the same place the Western proles get theirs, which is also why the Western proles haven’t joined The Revolution (yet!), in fulfillment of the scriptures.  Gramsci called the false consciousness installation process “hegemony.”  There are a zillion unread academic tomes covering all the nuances, but the basic idea is simple enough:  The ruling class controls the institutions; the institutions transmit culture; therefore, the culture takes ruling class values for granted.*

The solution, therefore, is as simple as the diagnosis: Capture the institutions, change the culture.

I trust y’all see where this is going.  The best conspiracy theories are the ones that are actually true, and this one is.  You want a grand conspiracy to destroy Western Civ?  Here it is, laid out as openly as Marxist prose can express it, in excruciating detail.  If anything, I’m being unfair to Antonio Gramsci.  He put it all together in true kommissar style, but these ideas were everywhere on the Left in the early 20th century.  In America, for instance, Progressives like John Dewey had been maneuvering to get control of elementary schools since the late 19th century.  Progressives just looooove putting their hands on children.  Have you noticed?

Every single insane, culture-destroying, gulag-enabling idea the Left has had in the last 200 years, starting with Karl Marx’s sub-Hegelian flatulence itself, can be traced directly back to some fucking egghead.  I’ll repeat that: DIRECTLY.  You can find their works, and quote them, because this stuff is in every syllabus of every Humanities class of every college in the Western world.  The prose is opaque as only PoMo prose can be, but the main ideas are easy enough to decipher….

…I wrote “ideas,” but there’s really only one “idea.”  Since The Revolution obviously ain’t gonna happen — it seems even Leftists can acknowledge one tiny aspect of reality, if you give ’em twelve decades and 100 million bodies — the Left’s entire program, top to bottom, stem to stern, is shit-flinging nihilism.  Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go — not because it’s Western, but because it’s Civilization.

That’s the enemy, gentlemen.  If I were building some kind of movement-energizing mythology for Our Thing — and of course I am not; this is all hypothetical — the first thing I’d do is demonize the professors.  Consider that you’ve got a group

and you’ve got a crew that’s frankly begging for it.  They’d love being the devils in your pantheon, because it’d give their sad, squalid little lives some meaning.

Best of all, anyone can contribute to the Great Anti-Egghead Crusade.  If you’re a college student — hell, if you’re a high school student — you can find umpteen examples of anti-civilizational preaching in every single one of your textbooks.  Just copy them down and circulate them.  (If you want to be a briefly notorious shitlord, you can ambush them with it.  Since you know Professor So-and-So wrote something horrible about killing off class enemies, you can stroll into her office hours, cell phone camera at the ready, and ask her about it.  “Do you really believe, and I quote, ___”?).

If you’re long past your own college years — or you’re one of the smart ones who never went in the first place — pull your support.  Most college sports programs don’t make money, but they’re invaluable for marketing.  A 10% dip in viewership for the 2020 March Madness will bankrupt a bunch of schools by 2025.

Even if you’re one of the rare sensible ones who doesn’t watch sports, colleges are public institutions.  They’re funded by taxes, which are passed by politicians.  The education committee of  your state legislature isn’t one of the glamour posts.  They stick the dimbulb no-hopers there.  Someone who’s a dimbulb by politician standards is a mouth-breather indeed; they’re exquisitely susceptible to pressure.  Write them letters.  LOTS of letters.  Quote extensively from professors’ published works.

Most of all, just spread the word.  Get on the listservs with the quotes our student friends have put together.  Talk to your friends, the ones with kids or grandkids in the higher ed pipeline.  Are you really going to go a second mortgage in hock for this?

If you want to get really nasty, Alinsky that shit.  Find a target, freeze it, polarize it, personalize it.  Being half-educated halfwits, our professors don’t know who Admiral John Byng was, but they can certainly be made to grasp the concept of pour encourager les autres.  Again: These people publish these statements.  Under their own names.  What academic, I ask you, is going to complain when her never-read tome suddenly gets cited all over the place?  That’s how you get tenure in the first place!

If you want to get really, really nasty, of course, you should get out there with the Bernouts and Trustafarians and agitate for the cancellation of student loan debt.  Sure, sure, it’ll crash the economy so hard that the Great Depression will feel like a happy ending at an Oriental massage parlor, but that’s going to happen anyway.  At least the blue-haired nose-ringers will starve first.

And that’s just for starters!  Feel free to add your own.  Hypothetically, of course — this is all hypothetical.

 

 

 

*Thus setting up one of those flabby tautologies that give Leftists chubbies: The ruling class rules because it’s the ruling class.  Marxism, in all its flavors, is just the bloodiest iteration of The Worst Argument in the World.
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Blame the Eggheads, Part II

The question then becomes, how did our “intellectuals” get to be the way they are?

Believe it or not, “college” was a conservative institution well within living memory.  We were suspicious of our intellectuals long before the 1960s, of course — to a frontier people, incomprehensible enthusiasms probably have ulterior motives — but we were not in any meaningful sense “anti-intellectual.”

Before the 1960s, even the most fiercely intellectual intellectuals reached wide audiences.  The James brothers, for instance (William and Henry), were as Boston brahmin as it got, but though their works weren’t page-turners most literate Americans at least knew their names and the outlines of their thought.  Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. wrote popular light verse; though we slog through them now, heavyweight writers like Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne were bestsellers in their day.  We even claimed native sons T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound when they got famous / notorious enough (though they didn’t return the favor), and no one then or now would call them popular writers.

So what happened?  How did our “intelligentsia” go, in the space of maybe two generations, from “aloof but respected” to “hated and mocked”?  How did they go from conservatives — meaning, if nothing else, “conservators of high culture” — to purple-haired, nose-ringed genderfluids with custom pronouns?

There are two answers, a simple and a complex one.  Both are right as far as they go.  The first is simple arithmetic.  The Cold War required more techies than the Ivy League could provide.  What we should’ve done, of course, was create a separate “defense tech” higher ed system, but that’s not the American Way.  Instead, we noticed that there were all these state colleges around, wasting their math and science faculty on Rocks for Jocks-type classes for the local sons of privilege.  Why not give them gazillions in grant money to buy the kind of lab equipment you can design missiles with?

The problem, though, was that universities — which, again, were profoundly conservative institutions back then — didn’t see “churning out missile designers” as their core function.  They really believed all that “shaping young men’s characters” stuff they put in the college motto.  So they made all the aspiring missile designers take stuff like English and History….

I think you see where this is going.  Since only “original” “research” gets published (it’s the hoariest old college tradition of them all), and since everything that needed to be said about high culture had been said centuries ago, the only way to crank out the huge numbers of new English, History, etc. PhDs that the vastly expanded student bodies required was to vastly expand the meanings of “original” and “research.”  Thus the road to tenure takes only Left turns, and thus the Mark van Dorens and Van Wyck Brookses of the academic world — “liberals” by the standards of their day — became crusty old dinosaurs within their lifetimes.  Mark van Doren might deserve a few years in Purgatory for encouraging Allen Ginsburg’s pretensions, but nobody deserves the hell of watching his lifetime’s work wiped out by creepy old Nazi-collaborating Frogs who insist there’s no such thing as “literature.”

The second reason our “intellectuals” are the way they are stems from the first.  I’m an educated man by today’s standards, but as I’ve said here many times, the institutions that granted me advanced degrees at the turn of the 21st century wouldn’t even have admitted me as an undergrad in the middle of the 20th.  Compared to mine, the erudition of the Baby Boom generation of professors is deep, profound… and those are the half-trained scabs crashed through to fill English 101 slots back in the early 1960s.  Living “the life of the mind” is awful damn hard when your mind doesn’t have much furniture…

Which is the profound, sick genius of “radical” politics.  A guy who graduated with a BA from Podunk State in 1960 knows at least Latin, probably Greek, and likely can still diagram a sentence and factor a quadratic.  I have a Master’s and a PhD, from places with much heftier reps than Podunk State, and I can’t do any of that.  So which is easier: Admitting that I suck, and that putting me in front of a college classroom is like putting a kid straight from tee ball in the batter’s box against Max Scherzer… or claiming that all that stuff — the Greek and Latin and whatnot — is just a patriarchal imposition of the Pale Penis People?

I’ve got a few decades’ worth of pay stubs from various colleges, so you know which one I picked.  At least I had the good grace to feel a pang of conscience while cashing the check, though.  Most of my colleagues, though, really believed that stuff….

Part III soon.

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Blame the Eggheads

No revolutionary movement gets off the ground without an organizing myth.  It needs to offer a comprehensive vision of the world.  Crucially, it needs to make its adherents feel special just for believing it.  It’s a tall order.  If I were trying to do it — and I’m not; this is all strictly hypothetical — I’d start with The Enemy.  After all, as Eric Hoffer taught, you can get a mass movement going without a god, but never without a devil.

My suggestion for a modern-day devil: The eggheads.

Europeans call Americans “anti-intellectual,” and as much as it pains me to admit it, those cheese-eating surrender monkeys have a point.  Americans love intelligence — witness the fact that we invented everything that makes modern life worth living.  About the intelligent we’re ambivalent — we appreciate what they do (that “make the stuff that makes life worth living” thing), but insist that they stay in their lanes.  Bill Gates, for instance, writes a mean line of code, but despite spending gazillions on it nobody takes him seriously as a lifestyle guru — just give us the free computers and fuck off, four-eyes.  We despise intellectuals, though, and that takes some unpacking.

Part of it is the old saw about American vs. European social life.  In Britain, it’s said, the worst sin is to be boring.  Hence the long parade of truly great English eccentrics.  Oscar Wilde, for instance.  Or, if you prefer a modern example, that Milo guy — though calling him a cut-rate Oscar Wilde is a gross insult to the bargain bin, it’s the same basic idea.  People will listen to what he says because he’s entertaining (for certain values of “entertainment”).

In America, on the other hand, the worst sin is insincerity.  Oscar Wilde did a very successful tour of the USA just as he was rising to fame, and though he packed the house every night, you could fit the number of young Americans who aped his style into a port-a-potty.  Not because young Americans in big cities weren’t bored, rich, and decadent — this was, after all, the Gilded Age — but because Wilde’s act was so obviously an act.  Wilde may have been making a serious point about art — then again, he may have been just a screaming queen — but every single thing he did was contrived.  We had to wait until the 1960s to get a homegrown version of Oscar Wilde — Andy Warhol — and even then his actual influence was limited to a few rich New York degenerates.

The explanation for this contrast is simple: Britain had been civilized since Roman times.  The British horsey set not only knew each other from the cradle, but had been intermarried for generations, in lots of cases all the way back to Hastings.  When you’re at least kissing cousins with every single individual who matters in an empire that covers half the world’s landmass, novelty, any novelty, is the only thing.

The USA, on the other hand, was a rough frontier society.  You could get yourself killed with frightening ease in America, even in 1882 (the word “dude” was originally coined to describe this exact situation, of a soft-handed, muddle-headed city boy wandering into Indian Country).  In a frontier society, you’d better be exactly what you say you are at all times — you might not live long enough for a second chance at a first impression.

That leaves the intellectual — no quotation marks — in a tough spot.  I’m pretty sure everyone has an interest that baffles everyone else in their lives.  Comic book fans, I imagine, spend more time answering the question “How could a grown-up possibly still be into comic books?” than they do actually collecting the books.  The kind of person who asks that question, of course, doesn’t really want to know the answer.  He just doesn’t get it, full stop, and never will.  Now: Imagine that situation, but with a truly recondite interest — Etruscan vases or the Metaphysical Poets or something.  Like the comic book fan, it can’t but come off as contrived — since no adult could possibly still find value in a pastime for ten-year-olds (a bunch of ancient junk, whatever), it must be a pose.

Europeans, as we’ve noted, are completely fine with poseurs (feel free to change “completely fine with” to “all total,” depending on your level of anti-Continental animus).  See “civilized since Roman times,” above.  This is why they’re so good at keeping “weapons-grade philosophy” contained — up to 99.5% of the dorks in European “revolutionary” parties are just poseurs, and Europeans find poseurs amusing.

To Americans, poseurs are dangerous.  The guy who says he’s a badass gunfighter better actually be a badass gunfighter, because the Comanche war party is always just over the horizon and we have to have each other’s backs instantly, completely, and competently.  So when we hear some noodle-necked, pencil-armed nerd talking about liquidating entire classes of people, it fries our circuits.  How can he possibly say these things?  This…organism… doesn’t even know which pronouns to use, and xzhey cries whenever the cafeteria’s out of free-trade, shade-grown, sustainably-sourced tofu.  We can’t possibly take it seriously….

…. and yet, we’re compelled to.  America was a rough frontier society for so long that it’s in our DNA — a man making a threat is, in fact, making a threat.  And so our “intellectuals” — note the quotation marks this time — are ruthlessly evaluated on the only metric that makes sense to a frontier people: Can he actually do what he says he’s going to do?  Obviously, xzhey can’t — hence the utter contempt.

Part II soon.

 

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The Greatest Hits

I’ve been asked about this twice now: What are Rotten Chestnuts’ “greatest hits”?

I have no idea.  Of the posts I’ve written, the ones I personally like the best seem to get no response.  Stuff I consider crap, on the other hand, gets lots of response.  But not consistently — since I believe that in blogging, as in democracy, the people deserve to get what they want good and long and hard, I’d happily produce nothing but crap if I knew what specific kind of crap y’all want.  But I can’t figure it out.

And anyway, response rate is probably a very poor metric.  We had an idiot troll collective infesting the place back in the early days, so some posts have dozens and dozens and dozens of comments…. they’re good posts, mind you, but probably not “triple-digit comments” good.

Finally, the posts that stick in my mind as having sparked discussion are often way outside my wheelhouse.  This one, for instance, is about Star Wars.  Despite being on the Internet, I really don’t care about Star WarsStar Trek, anime, manga, comic books, Dungeons and Dragons, or video games.  I haven’t watched network tv in years, and haven’t seen a movie in a theater for at least that long.  That piece represents the sum total of my engagement with nerd culture, and it’s mostly about Socialist Realism.

So I’ll open the floor.  Do y’all have any suggestions for “greatest hits”?  That is, if you wanted to convince someone to give Rotten Chestnuts a try — and God alone knows why you would, but if — which posts would you pick, and why?

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Organizing Myths: A Suggestion

I. A Brief History of the Reformation.

Christianity is one of the world’s great organizing myths.*  Convince people that their beliefs make them special — indeed, immortal — and they’ll die for you with a smile on their lips.

The problem, though, is that Jesus’s teaching requires you not just to say, but to do, and, ultimately, to be.  The vast panoply of ritual that the Church developed in its first 14 centuries was great at conflating these three, but by the late Middle Ages it was obvious to everyone that mere ritual had completely replaced substance.  Relics, vestments, “creeping to the Cross,” and all the other stuff Luther and the boys complained about — and Late Medieval Catholicism was very, very weird — meant that “faith” was just empty show.  “Indulgences” are overrated, Reformation-wise, but that’s the basic idea — you don’t have to be, let alone do, when you can say… or have said for you, for a minimal fee.

The great Reformers were all very special snowflakes, but the Puritans were the special-est snowflakes History has ever produced.  They focused entirely on the inner experience.  Get your being right, they held, and whatever you say and do will automatically be right.  That they were history’s first ideological murderers goes without saying, and truly excellent killers they were, too — ever heard of the Pequot Indian tribe?  No?  There’s a reason for that.  “Thus the lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their Land for an Inheritance.”

It’s tempting to say “and here we are!,” and indeed it’s commonplace in Our Thing to refer to the dour scolds who rule us as Puritans.  They’re not, though, because Puritanism never had mass appeal.  Equating “membership in the Elect” with “worldly success” is great if you’re one of the successful, but as the vast majority of people aren’t successful, The Elect are a small, elite club.  Which Calvin et al to their…credit, I guess? … were ok with, but once the revolutionary fervor passed away with the first generation of fanatics, Puritanism was unsustainable.  In Massachusetts, for example, they were hanging witches in 1693; by 1698 Cotton Mather was being openly mocked, and by 1700 everyone was pretending that the whole sordid business never happened.

II. Saving Your Soul by Being Yourself.

If you really want a revolutionary movement, then, you have to have mass appeal.  Which means you have to have a way to show the world the pristine condition of your soul that doesn’t involve either

  • mere ritualism; or
  • material success.

A tall order, you’d think, but that’s the genius of Communism.  It tells you that you are a superior person merely by being who you are.

If you’re not successful, it’s Capitalism’s fault.  You are a Victim of Society — a paschal lamb (look at Leftist iconography, even at this late degenerate date, and tell me e.g. trannies aren’t being portrayed as sacrifices for Society’s sins, even as they’re seemingly being praised).

If you are successful, then your success isn’t due to some combination of hard work, luck, and talent.  Rather, it’s education.  Specifically, it’s education in the Leftist sense, which (irony alert!) an actually educated person would call gnosis.  Merely by reading the Scriptures — that is, by “going to college” — one achieves insight into the hidden nature of the universe.

So long as the correlation between those two doesn’t go negative, you can keep the revolutionary fires stoked.  That is, so long as

  1. no significant amount of poor people manage to better themselves without “college;” and/or
  2. no significant fraction of “college” graduates sink into poverty

you can maintain the illusion that you and everyone like you is among the Elect.  Is it any wonder, then, that the Left is addicted, not to identity politics, but to gestural politics?  The “identity politics” stuff is just a subset of the gestures, which are, in turn, mere rituals to propitiate the gods… who, thanks to the mysterious alchemy of Left-gnosticism, are really us.  Give people permission to worship themselvesand they’ll do anything you tell them to.**

III.  Going Negative.

The problem is, while Leftist “help” has made certain that 1, above, will never happen, that same “help” has all but guaranteed 2.  A college degree is now negative equity, and as resources get scarcer, even dimwits with Angry Studies degrees will cotton to it.  Moreover, simply writing off student loan debt won’t help, even if there were some way to do it without crashing the economy — you may not be 100 large in the hole anymore, Snowflake, but you’re still 29 years old, with no marketable skills and a resume that tops out at “part-time barista.”

Which will, naturally, lead to a reexamination of 1.  Illegals have all the jobs you’re qualified for, and as for welfare…. ooops, sorry, you’re the wrong color.  You think President Kamala Harris is going to short one of her Hotep Brothers for you, or President Ocasio-Cortez one of La Raza?  Tough shit, Honky — starve.

Anger focuses the mind wonderfully.  However, it’s not enough.  To really get people going, you need to spiritualize their situation, the way the Puritans and Commies did.  If I were to craft an organizing myth — hypothetically, FBI goons, hypothetically — I’d sacralize the concept of “responsibility.”  Just by struggling to make it, taking care of your own, you’re noble.  Moreover, you did everything They told you to do, and got screwed.  You made mistakes, yes (that Angry Studies degree), but only because you were wormtongued into abandoning your sense of responsibility — to yourself, to your posterity, to your people.  “No rights without responsibilities” might work as a rallying cry — do you want the very same people who cheerfully freeload to be able to vote on the flavor of their free lunch?

That may not work — these are, like Luther’s theses, only theoretical starting points for reasonable discussion among learned men — but it’s something.

 

 

*No knock on Christianity.  I believe it works, ultimately, because it’s true, but that’s irrelevant.  “Truth” and “social power” have next to nothing to do with one another.  See e.g. the entire 20th century.
** Is it any wonder that Carl Schmitt said all modern political concepts are degraded theological concepts?  But that can’t be right, since Carl Schmitt joined the Cat Fancy party and therefore was obviously wrong about everything.
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