Monthly Archives: April 2021

Reader Mailbag [UPDATED]

UPDATE: Pickle Rick asks:

Why was there an explosion of female bass players in 90s bands? From White Zombie to Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth to Hole, the 90s were the era of the Alt Chick Bass Player. Who was the MVP, and show your work. Hotness and talent must be given equal consideration.

There was, wasn’t there? I have no idea why, but I remember it well. We even had a chick bass player on our dorm floor briefly, and bassed (get it?) on that experience, I can hypothesize that there’s a “guy magnet” effect for female rockers, too — not as pronounced as the “chick magnet” effect for guys, of course, but definitely there. This chick was at best a 6 — and I’m being generous here, taking full account of teenage male hormones — but she carried on like a 9, and lots of guys let her get away with it. (This was in the pre-internet age, mind you, so “a six carrying on like a nine” was a remarkable phenomenon, not “just another day on Facebook”).

As for who was the best… not being a musician, I have no way to judge on their technical merits, so I’m going to go with “who was most integral to her band’s sound?” For comparison purposes: I don’t know how musically skilled he is, but U2’s Adam Clayton is essential to their sound; his funky, thumping basslines are about the only things holding their late-90s electro-crap together.

I can’t comment on Hole or Sonic Youth. I’m sure I heard some of their songs, My impression of Sonic Youth was that they were the pretentious alterna-guy’s favorite band, and my friends, that is one high goddamn bar. Hole was “Kurt Cobain’s girlfriend’s band,” and based on her antics in The Game, Courtney Love is exactly what we all thought she was even back then. Nor can I comment on most of the rest of these acts, having either never heard of them (Concrete Blonde? Didn’t they do that godawful “What’s Up?” song?) or spent my time desperately trying to avoid them (L7, Belly, the Pixies). Aimee Mann was hot, and “Voices Carry” is one of the all time great 80s tunes, but it’s the only song of theirs anyone has ever heard…

Which leaves White Zombie and Smashing Pumpkins. The White Zombie chick probably has the edge on hotness — she definitely showed the most skin, which was not a thing in the 1990s, damn it — but since White Zombie’s records are indistinguishable from Rob Zombie’s solo work, I’m going to say she wasn’t that important to their sound. Smashing Pumpkins replaced one chick bassist (Melissa auf der Mar) with another (D’Arcy Wretzky) and sounded exactly the same. Which makes sense, since “Smashing Pumpkins” was pretty much always “Billy Corgan and the only other musicians who could stand to be around him at the time.”

Given all that, I’m going to give the nod to D’Arcy, since she made fun of herself on a Simpsons episode, which was pretty much the most Nineties thing a musician could do, short of recording a duet with a fossilized crooner. “Hey, I wasn’t a loser in high school! I was in the audio-visual club!”


UPDATELike the Ghostbusters lady says, we got one!! A reader* writes:

“Hey Sev.  I’m thinking we’re being subject to our own ‘Century of Humiliation’ these days. Like the Chinese after the Opium Wars, turnabout is fair play, etc. Whattya think?”

Sounds about right to me. Certainly the Chinese subjecting out diplomats to anal swabs is some payback. And frankly, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch. Sucks for the rest of us, but I’m really starting to think my doofy hippie college professors were on to something, way back when: We ARE the bad guys. Not in the way those buttholes thought, of course, but look: We flail and fumble and fuck our way across the world stage like emotionally incontinent lunatics. I’d much sooner play three-card monte against a used car salesman named after a city than I would trust anything any American “statesman” had to say. About anything.

At least you know the Cincinnati Kid is just trying to take your money. No one knows, or possibly can know, what those imbeciles in Tubman DF are trying to achieve. Not least because they have no idea themselves — Rutabaga Joe has lukewarm tapioca between his ears, and as for Kamala, the smartest thing that ever came out of her was Willie Brown’s dick. It’s as mysterious to the rest of the world as it is to us Dirt People, who exactly is calling the shots. Now, regular readers of RC know that there has been a situation in which a large, important nation with an extremely powerful military effectively had no government at all for long stretches… and they know exactly how it worked out.

The only question is, does the truly horrible shit start before every nation we’ve wronged — which is pretty much every nation on earth — gets their chance to exact some petty revenge, or after?

*I don’t know if or how you want to be identified, so I guess please put that in your email, should you send one: Should I print your handle, and if so, what is it?

 


Since it’s Friday, I ain’t got no job, and I ain’t got shit else to do, I figured it might be fun to try a “mail” column. Kinda like “ask me anything,” but you can just email the questions to me, thus bypassing the WordPress registration and login stuff.

I’ll try to update this as questions come in. It shouldn’t be too hard, since there are only, what?, twenty readers? thirty, tops? but as I’m still trying to limit my online time I might not get to them all. In which case, I’ll do a roundup this weekend or Monday.

Alternately, there might not be too many questions, or any. That seems likelier, and if that happens, well, it’ll just confirm what I’ve long suspected — that I’m as popular as Joe Biden’s dogs at a hemophiliacs’ convention.

Either way, I hope all you doubleplus ungood badthinkers have a nice weekend. Looks like it’ll be sort of spring-y, maybe even summer-y, in lots of places across Former America, so grill some hot dogs, chug some brews, and know that this too shall pass.

My email is: rcseverian at proton mail dot com. Please don’t send me any great deals on penis pills — I’ve already stocked up for the season.

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Biden Bans Menthols [UPDATED 2x]

2x UPDATE: I take it back, the Biden plan might be secretly brilliant. In an email, a reader suggested that if Canada hasn’t banned menthols yet, there will be lots and lots of “armed enrichment” going on at the border. In other words, the menthol ban is Rutabaga Joe’s plan to export Minnesota’s Jogger problem to the Great White North. Which… I gotta hand it to ya, Joe, that’s genius. Let some Mountie be the next Chauvin.

[Apologies to my Canadian readers, but… you guys have been trying to out-#woke us for a long, long time. We deserve everything we’re getting, I’m not saying that, but… we’re willing to share the love, since y’all seem so willing to take it].


Since we’re heading into summer, bags of charcoal briquettes are starting to appear on gas station shelves, packages of hot dogs in their cold cases. This seems weird if you think about it for five seconds — shelf space in a gas station is extremely limited, and one bag of Kingsford takes up a fair percentage of it. Same thing with the cold case. If you think about it for another five seconds, though, it makes perfect sense — people are heading out of town, or into town to visit friends, and charcoal and hot dogs are two of the most common “hey, I’ll bring it!… oh crap, I forgot it” summer cookout items. They’ll cost you an arm and a leg at Kwik-E Mart, but hey, that’s why they call them convenience stores, amirite?

You don’t see those items in “urban” Kwik-E Marts, though, no matter the season. This is not because Blacks don’t grill out. They’re grillin’ fools, as much or even more so than the grillin’ fool Normies out in the burbs. When the homies in the hood want to grill out, they get their charcoal and hot dogs from Walmart like everyone else. The Kwik-E Mart serves a more specialized market niche. For instance, they sell these:

I’m told that the trade name for these is “love roses,” but they’re not taking up the Kwik-E Mart’s extremely limited shelf space because they’re so romantic down on MLK Boulevard. Here’s a free piece of advice: If you don’t know what those are actually for, and you find yourself in a gas station where they’re sold, GET OUT (if you do know, you’ll never find yourself there in the first place).

Same deal with the other two items universally found in the MLK Kwik-E Mart, shoelaces and steel wool. Here again, it’s not because they’re scrubbing ovens with untied shoes at three in the morning. They’re drug paraphernalia — the love rose tube and some steel wool (specifically, the trade name Chore Boy) makes a crack (or meth) pipe; the shoelaces are makeshift tourniquets for shooting heroin. I don’t blame you for not knowing this stuff, if you don’t — in fact, I hope this is all news to you — but ask yourself: How did all that stuff get there in the first place?

Wiki has an entry on the “love rose,” but neither it nor the references cited give anything on its history. They’re bought in bulk from China — of course — but before we put on our tinfoil hats, ask yourself: How many regular drug users do you know? I don’t know many anymore, but I have been to college, so I know that druggies are endlessly inventive. My pothead friends used to MacGyver up bongs out of apples heisted from the cafeteria, and that was among the least impressive of their improvisational skills. So while I certainly wouldn’t put it past the commie bastards, I’m going to assume that the MSS had agents down in the ghetto or up the holler, teaching disreputables how to do drugs. Given how kitschy lower-class Americans are, I’m going to assume that the first three or four love roses were actually purchased for their intended use.

Which still leaves open the question of how they continue to proliferate on Kwik-E Mart shelves. Yeah yeah, it’s rhetorical, but even rhetorical questions have answers, and this one’s worth examining, since it gets to the heart of so much of what has gone wrong, not just with conservatism, but with Western culture generally. Let’s start with the most obvious objection of all, that maybe somehow the guys stocking the shelves at Kwik-E Mart don’t actually know what the love roses, shoelaces, and scouring pads are really being used for.

Again, I really hope you’re not familiar with such places, so I’ll ask you to trust me: Maybe the most naive, just-hired store clerk doesn’t know, but if he has more than three brain cells to rub together, he’ll figure it out by the end of his fourth shift. It’s really not hard to spot a habitual crack, meth, or heroin user. It’s really, really, really not, though I advise you not to google up images of, say, “meth addict” before meals unless you’re having trouble sticking to a diet. Throw in the fact that the shoelaces, at least, will be kept under lock and key with the booze and cigarettes, and it’ll become real obvious real fast. They know, because it’s impossible that they don’t know.

Which is why, as Z Man says, if you meet a Libertarian, you should beat him — he’ll know the reason for it. That’s the completely unfettered free market in action. Libertarianism destroys social capital almost as fast as Marxism does, because hey, why shouldn’t we sell shoelaces to heroin addicts? They’re going to tie themselves off with something, right? They know the risks… their body, their choice, right? So why not make a buck off it? And that’s before you consider that the majority of Kwik-E Mart owners in the ghetto are Subcontinentals, who, saving only the East Asians who also own a bunch of ghetto convenience stores, are the most racist people on earth. Pajeet and Fu Kim probably figure they’re doing the planet a favor…

Which brings us to the Biden administration’s baffling decision to ban menthol cigarettes. This isn’t quite as niche as love roses and Chore Boy, but the demographics of menthol smokers are very, very dark (the only non-Blacks to smoke menthols might as well be). In the comments to the below post, I suggested that this was just some random politician with an axe to grind, slipping his pet law into the pile — since our totally legitimate, not at all fraudulent President doesn’t have lukewarm tapioca for a brain, he won’t just sign anything they shove in front of him…

But on further reflection, I don’t think that’s true. It’s quite possible — likely, even — that the Congressional Black Caucus (who I’m told pushed the menthol ban) doesn’t know that only homeboys and mudsharks smoke menthols, in the same way that the middle management goobers at Kwik-E Mart probably have no idea what love roses are for. Given the way business and political rackets work these days, there’s a total disconnect between “management” and “workers.” It simply never occurs to the Normie with the MBA to wonder why all the stores on MLK Blvd. are ordering bulk shipments of love roses and Chore Boy — it’s just a line on a spreadsheet to him (if anything, he’ll start wondering how to market that stuff to the ‘burbs, and given the total negrification of our culture it wouldn’t surprise me to see them there before long, but that’s a rant for another day).

It’s not a race thing, in other words, it’s a business thing, and if business hurts “the Black community” while enriching “the Black community’s” leaders, well… welcome to America, pal. Same as it ever was. We’re ALL just units on spreadsheets these days.

[UPDATE]Like most posts around here, this one is supposed to be more of a springboard for discussion, rather than a fully thought out position piece. To that end, perhaps a recap of Totally Legit Joe’s stated reasons for the menthol ban will help. This is from CBS News (no link, because fuck them):

“Banning menthol—the last allowable flavor—in cigarettes and banning all flavors in cigars will help save lives, particularly among those disproportionately affected by these deadly products. With these actions, the FDA will help significantly reduce youth initiation, increase the chances of smoking cessation among current smokers, and address health disparities experienced by communities of color, low-income populations, and LGBTQ+ individuals, all of whom are far more likely to use these tobacco products…”

…The FDA pointed to studies suggesting that a menthol ban would help people quit smoking, noting that menthol makes tobacco more palatable and “facilitates progression to regular smoking, particularly among youth and young adults.”

“One study suggests that banning menthol cigarettes in the U.S. would lead an additional 923,000 smokers to quit, including 230,000 African Americans in the first 13 to 17 months after a ban goes into effect,” the FDA statement said.

In other words, digging through all the word salad… it’s a pander. They’re updating the old “gateway drug” assertion — just as pot is supposed to be the “gateway drug” to heroin and crack and all that, so menthol is, apparently, the “gateway drug” to… more smoking? That’s about as coherent as anything else the totally legitimate, not at all fraudulent junta puts out these days.

But what a white pill, eh? The Totally Legit Joe administration thinks inducing nicotine withdrawal in populations that were already dead-certain locks to vote Democrat anyway — and as if they really needed to bother with “votes” anymore anyway — is some kind of reward to his constituents. It’s not just Joe — they’re ALL “thinking” on the lukewarm-tapioca level.

And the funniest thing is, since they admit that it’s only — ahem — certain demographics that smoke menthols, the only thing this does is to make people wonder why, exactly, “health disparities [are] experienced by communities of color, low-income populations, and LGBTQ+ individuals.” Hint: It ain’t because they’re smokers.

So in trying to help a brutha out, Totally Legit Joe has managed to state what everyone knows, but has been too afraid of the #cancel mob to say — that only Negroes and sundry other social fuckups smoke menthols, and because of this (and their other obvious fuckwittery), they experience lots of “health disparities.” Thanks Joe!

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It’s a Hard Knock Life

At the gym today, I saw a Karen exercising alone, masked up of course, making sure to maintain six feet social distance from everyone. I confirmed the latter experimentally — I saw her heading towards the water fountain, so I set course to intercept. Her ostentatious vaudeville veer away from me would’ve done Buster Keaton proud. Naturally, being the asshole I am, I gave her a cheery “good morning!,” but that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is: This little episode shows why I’m an idiot.

Like lots of folks watching the Great Kung Flu Freakout unfold, I figured it would be over in a month or two, three tops. My reasoning was simple: Once Karen realized she was stuck inside with the kids, and couldn’t spend her days out self-actualizing at the shopping mall and the nail salon, she’d demand Fauci’s head on a pike, and that would be that.

I really, really, really should’ve known better.

The fact is that there is something deeply appealing about him. One feels it again when one sees his photographs…It is a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs. In a rather more manly way it reproduces the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified, and there is little doubt that that is how [he] sees himself. The initial, personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at; but at any rate the grievance is here. He is the martyr, the victim, Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds. If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon. One feels, as with Napoleon, that he is fighting against destiny, that he can’t win, and yet that he somehow deserves to. The attraction of such a pose is of course enormous; half the films that one sees turn upon some such theme.

“He” being, of course, Adolf Hitler. Orwell had him nailed in 1940. Go ahead, have some fun with this, Name That Tune!-style — see how few words you can cut before you arrive at a perfect pen-portrait of Karen, vintage 2020.

And further:

Also he has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain….Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense;* they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.

Far from annoying Karen to death by preventing her from getting transcendental at the hair salon, the ever more bizarre and draconian COVID rules are giving her meaning. She’s practically creaming her jeans every time she goes out in public, masked and socially distanced, with her big bottles of hand sanitizer hanging off her purse like the demented battle rattle of some menopausal Marine. (No offense intended to real Marines).

I love Orwell’s review of Mein Kampf. I quote from it all the time. But… there it is. A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest, as I think DMX once said.


*The footnote is mine, not Orwell’s, but it’s the perfect one-sentence distillation of what makes Orwell so infuriating. He sees, but he doesn’t see. No, George, all that shit is NOT “common sense.” It took mankind thousands of years to get into a place where we could even begin to contemplate such things. And he knew it, too, the bastard, which is why he kept falling out with the Left of his day — they were all pantywaists, while he, Orwell, had a mean streak a mile wide. Re-read “Shooting the Elephant,” or the battle bits of Homage to Catalonia — he enjoyed it. See also the fact that he joined the Imperial Police. He made it sound like he had no choice, but Orwell was an Etonian — the Empire was his oyster, but he chose to go into the police.

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Fractal Government

I suppose many of you are familiar with Peter Turchin. He’s apparently doing yeoman’s work out there, so I mean no disrespect to the guy when I say that, as an oldster, I feel about “cliodynamics” the way the rest of the working psychologist community felt about Sigmund Freud back in the old cokehead’s salad days: Where he’s correct, he is not original; where he is original, he is not correct. Historians have been trying to make History a science for as long as there’s been science. Karl Marx is far from the worst offender, believe it or not, and I’m old enough to have been assigned Time on the Cross in grad school, and… well, let’s just let it go at that. You can slap all the numbers you want into any equation you can devise, but in the end all you’re doing is ass-pulled pseudo-quantification of trends that are there for anyone to see in the archives.

Still, he turns a useful phrase, and “overproduction of elites” is a doozy. Again, you can find the basic argument that “too many cooks spoil the broth” in every historian since Herodotus (probably in him, too), but Turchin’s phrase really highlights the problem for the modern age. As Derbyshire said somewhere (quoting from memory), there’s no question of “whether we should have an elite or not;” it’s only “will we have an elite that looks like this, or will we have one that looks like that.” So much of the practical part of governance — what “political science” would be if political science were actually a thing — is the management, direction, and training of the elite.

Consider feudalism. If you’ve ever checked in over at the other site (where I think I’ll cross-post this), you’ll see the assertion that the feudal “pyramid” is actually the feudal fractal (a “Sierpinski triangle,” google tells me this is called) — every brick of the pyramid is, itself, a pyramid. You’ll also recall the assertion that the Dunbar Number expresses something real, and very important, about the extent of human organization. You could write the entire political history of the West as the attempt to scale up the Dunbar Number and not go too far wrong. See e.g. the feudal system.

In theory, the feudal system is almost infinitely scalable. I of all people realize that “the feudal system” is an ad hoc, highly contingent historical development, but if I were planning out the ideal form of human governance, based on nothing more than the easily observed facts of primate behavior, I’d go with something very much like it. In theory, and grossly oversimplifying for clarity, the feudal system is the Dunbar Number writ large. The king can directly maintain stable, personal relationships with no more than 150 dukes, who control no more than 150 marquesses, who control no more than 150 earls, and so on down the chain. The system still works, and remains stable, so long as you can add intermediate ranks. The king stays the king, but in theory you can proliferate grades of nobility the way they keep adding weight classes in boxing — your super-middleweight earls, your featherweight dukes, and so on.*

The problem, though, is the one Karl Marx diagnosed so long ago: eventually the “means of production” change, which means that the system which is perfect, and perfectly scalable, for a 99% agrarian society has to adapt to new forms of organization.* So it went with the feudal system — pretty soon, the king was relying on dukes to do things that dukes aren’t designed to do, and indeed have no business doing. But despite the caricature of an aristocracy (largely an invention of Marxists and suchlike fugly losers), kings and dukes aren’t stupid. They knew they were out of their depth, so they delegated — first to churchmen, then to clever commoners on the make. Hence Cardinal Wolsey becomes Sir Thomas More becomes Thomas Cromwell — they’re basically the same guy, but note the progressive loss of title.

Such a system worked well enough… until it didn’t. That’s the “overproduction of elites” thing. Because you’re not just promoting a Wolsey or a More or a Cromwell into the halls of power, of course. You’re promoting his family, and his friends, and his family’s friends and his friends’ families. In that situation, the very best you can hope for is massive administrative bloat, as the increasingly overtaxed State tries to find more “iron rice bowl”-type jobs for all the cousins and lovers and hangers-on and fart-catchers and flunkies. Eventually, though, even the most robust economy runs out of make-work, and if you want to argue that this means, logically, that stuff like The Wars of the Roses are net benefits to places like England, since you can burn off a whole bunch of that dead wood in one go, I’m not going to stop you…

In keeping with current practice around here, I should stop there, and let the obvious-but-unstated conclusion stand as-is. But let’s take it a step further, and briefly examine a failed effort to solve the “elite oversupply” problem: The so-called “Renaissance Price.” You see this a lot more dramatically in Italy than Northern Europe — not that there weren’t some spectacular Renaissance men in Northern Europe, but Italy had the first and best art, so they get the ink in the textbooks. The reason a book like The Courtier exists — and I recommend it; it’s fantastic — is because it serves the very important purpose of giving these parasites’ lives meaning. Not because I give a shit about the parasites and their pwecious widdle self-concept, mind you, but because idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, and look what happens when you give a sneaky fucker like Thomas Boleyn a place at court without something productive to do.

Let them be patrons of the arts, the theory went — let guys like Sir Thomas Wyatt write goopy sonnets to their harlot daughters*** — and they’ll stop trying to meddle in the affairs of the realm out of boredom. Once again, the smart thing to do here would be to leave the conclusion unstated, but… even though I know y’all get it, let me ask: What is “Social Justice,” if not overproduced elites trying to be patrons of the arts in a thoroughly Postmodern world?

 


*”The Featherweight Dukes” would be a great name for a Bowie tribute band, btw.

**Again, Marx gets the credit for this because he coined the pithy phrase, but it’s literally an ancient idea — Sallust pointed out way back in the BCs that the very success of the Roman militia system destroyed the Roman militia system, because armies raised the traditional, extremely successful way couldn’t hold down the fruits of their victories.

***And oh, sweet Jesus, how far we have fallen. “Whoso List to Hunt” was the “Wet Ass Pussy” of its day, and if that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself, you’re made of sterner stuff than I, kamerad. Talented bastard, Sir Tommy, though like so many truly gifted men he absolutely couldn’t keep it in his pants.

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Willing Sacrifices

Apparently times are tough in Minne-mogadishu. Try not to laugh yourselves into a hernia, kameraden:

Since we’re apparently supposed to celebrate our return to the Dark Ages, allow me to get medieval on your ass, denizens of “George Floyd Square:”

Ahhh, that’s the stuff! You wanted it, dipshits — “it” being “justice for George” — and now you’re getting it, good and long and hard. See how that works?

And as for the police, let me ask you: Why in the name of all that’s holy would they ever lift a finger for you ever again? Because it’s their job? Jogger please. It’s not like answering a phone in a call center, or fixing a car, or selling insurance. For the cops, every encounter has the potential to escalate to physical force… and if the Floyd thing has taught us anything, it’s that any physical encounters with anyone likely to be up to no good in “George Floyd Square” is going to end with a cop getting murdered in prison.

This is no blanket defense of the cops. Look: Like everyone on this side of the Great Divide, I have some serious issues with the police — especially the ridiculous ninja’d out paramilitary ones, which these days is all of them. But regardless of their motivations, we’re asking the cops to make certain sacrifices for us, up to and including the ultimate sacrifice. If we’re going to do that, we need to make those potential sacrifices worthwhile…

…and y’all, they’re not. They’re just not.

Let me see if I can put this a different, better way. Back in the dim dark days of the Trump administration, when “Antifa” was first rising to prominence, this was a common sight on Liberals’ social media feeds:

Accompanied, of course, by some smarmy sanctimony — odious even by Leftie standards — about “just a group of young men getting together to protest fascism.” To which we Dissident types would reply something along the lines of “If those guys had known, back in 1944, that their descendants would be coal burners and foot washers and drag queens, they’d have defected to the goddamn Waffen-SS.”

That’s what I’m talking about. The World War II generation grew up hard. I guarantee you, there were no starry-eyed idealists on that Higgins boat. America in 1944 had a great many very obvious flaws. But for all that, America in 1944 was a society worth defending. It was a society worth sacrificing for, up to and including the ultimate sacrifice. A lot of the kids in that photo were undoubtedly dead by the end of the day. A lot more had physical and mental wounds they’d take with them to their dying day… which, for some of them, wasn’t more than a few weeks, days, hours into the future.

I wouldn’t want to be out there on that beach, telling some 22 year old kid with his guts hanging out that it was all worth it, to preserve baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. But in 1944, that was a case I could make. Now?

Forget it. I’d tell the kids on that boat to shoot their officers, then set a course for Massachusetts and reload. A society has to be worth making sacrifices for. I wouldn’t ask any soldier to lift a finger for this decadent, rotten society — or any cop. After all, we renamed it “George Floyd Square” — that, apparently, is what we want, so that’s what we should get.

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Is vs. Ought III: The Noble Lie

When I first started teaching undergraduates, way back in the Jurassic, this was a common occurrence: Snowflake turns in her midterm paper. She’s got the basic idea, but her argument’s logic is weak, her evidence is meager, and her writing is mediocre. I point all this out, give her some suggestions for improvement, slap a C on the paper, and hand it back.

Snowflake shows up at my office hours the next day, chagrined. “I always got straight As in history back in high school!” Well, ok, I’d reply, but this isn’t high school. Let’s take a look… see, here you mention A and B — and that’s good — but you don’t say anything about C and D, nor do you address objections E and F. The logic’s fuzzy here, nonexistent there — it’s not enough to just describe A and B; you need to show me how A leads to B. Plus you’ve got run-on sentences here, passive voice there, etc. etc. Since you came in to talk to me, I’ll give you a few points back on this grade, and if you fix all that up next time, you’ll do significantly better.

I’d raise Snowflake’s C+ to a B- on that paper, and if she followed my advice, she’d generally get a B+ or an A- on the next paper, even if it wasn’t quite up to snuff — I figured that learning the basics of more effective analysis and communication was worth it, even if she still hadn’t quite grasped all the underlying causes of the Civil War or whatever. (This was called “grading on improvement” and you technically weren’t supposed to do it back then, but as with everything else in life, in the classroom one must play the hand he’s dealt).

Fast forward a few years, and the flowers of No Child Left Behind started blooming. I’d get the same midterm, and give it the same grade, but the office hours meeting was much different. Snowflake wasn’t openly confrontational — not yet — but visibly impatient, and bewildered when I gave her the standard explanations. The conversation (such as it was) invariably ended with Snowflake asking “So you’re saying that if I just do this that and the other, that’s an A?”

Fast forward a few more semesters, and the confrontations started. “But I did everything the assignment said to do!!” Ummm….yeah, I guess, technically, but look, the question was: “Discuss the underlying causes of the Civil War,” and you gave me one sentence: “The underlying causes of the Civil War is slavery.” Followed, invariably, by Snowflake’s demand to show her where exactly on the syllabus it says that the answer can’t be one sentence.

Fast forward a few semesters, and now my assignment prompts look like Russian novels. Everything is spelled out in minute detail. The question is still “discuss the underlying causes of the Civil War,” but now I’ve got page length minimums, formatting requirements, reminders that papers must be submitted in English (really) with no slang or text-speak (yes, really), and on and on and on. And still the confrontations, but now they’re not even bothering to try to answer the question prompt — they’re just trying to jailhouse lawyer their way into an A, because there’s a typo on page 9 of the question prompt.

Fast forward a semester or two, and now all my “exams” are multiple choice, computer-graded, anonymously. And still the confrontations, because even though the answer is quite obviously A) slavery, I didn’t phrase it in that precise way in class, so how is she supposed to figure it out? Plus her grandma just died, and here’s a letter from Student Health proving she’s got fifteen disabilities and is entitled to retake any exam until she gets the grade she wants…

There were two factors at work here. The first — that students are all whining, entitled shitbirds who should all be sent down to the countryside for a few semesters, to reconnect with the laboring masses — is obvious but uninteresting. The second, though, has some bearing on the underlying causes of all this nonsense, so it’s worth exploring a bit. I’m referring to the idea that we can, and should, indeed must, make inherently subjective things objective.

All due respect to Gilbert Ryle, but it won’t do to yell “category error!” and leave it be. For one thing, the subject/object distinction is one of the oldest in philosophy, and though there ain’t no way we’re going there, the notion that the subjective can indeed be made objective — and, latterly, vice versa — has a body count attached to it. A BIG one.

Consider law codes. Here in AINO, of course, the “law” is whatever the Left’s rent-a-mob says it is today — see e.g. Derek Chavin, who is guilty of killing St. Floyd both accidentally and on purpose — but any society larger than a baboon troop immediately runs into the problem of codifying prohibited behavior. And I don’t (just) mean philosophically; I mean administratively — since neither Hammurabi nor his provincial governors can personally investigate every case that comes before them, they need a heuristic. It’s not perfect Justice, which everyone knows is unobtainable in this world anyway, but it’s justice, or even “justice” — doesn’t matter, as long as it’s consistently applied by a legitimate authority.

And that “legitimate authority” thing is recursive — an authority becomes, and remains, legitimate, largely through the consistent administration of justice. Not “fair” or “equitable” or any of that other Enlightenment bullshit we absolutely must get over to make it in the Brave New Brown World, but consistent. Even among the White folks, feudal law codes were grossly “unfair” (that’s quite a bit of what the word “feudal” means). But they were consistent

and when they weren’t consistent — when exceptions were made — it was made clear to all and sundry that an exception was being made, and WHY an exception was being made. Those with the authority to judge understood that it’s important to the stable functioning of society to behave as if the law codes are, in fact, objective. A big part of legitimate authority was the ability to make exceptions. It doesn’t matter how the authority was “created” in the first place — be it blue blood, or the social contract, or divine intervention, or whatever. The authority remains sovereign because he alone is empowered to decide the exceptions.

In other words: A legitimate authority is the subjective factor in an otherwise objective system of laws.*

Consider the alternative: a computer program, JudgeBot 3000. There actually is, or was, I’m told, a school of legal thought called “legal positivism” which, like “logical positivism” in philosophy, tried to reduce all errors to three: contingent falsity, meaninglessness, and category error (which I suppose is a subset of meaninglessness). The idea, in the legal realm at least, was to effectively create JudgeBot 3000 — a law code so airtight that deciding cases was simply a matter of following a flowchart. I’m sure there are nuances to this I’m missing, I’m no legal scholar, but just on the surface this looks like one of those ideas so stupid, only an intellectual could believe it. Oh, the guy who tackled a jihadi who was about to detonate himself in a crowd of schoolkids jaywalked in order to do it? Too bad — toss him in the slammer; jaywalking is a Class C misdemeanor that shall be punished by no less than a month in prison.

In other words: Exceptions must be made, while preserving the facade of objectivity, AND the decider-of-exceptions must understand that he’s doing both.

The problem is, of course, that while, say, Hammurabi himself might be fully aware he’s doing this, Hammurabi has been trained since birth to do it. From the time he could walk, he was trained to respect the awesome responsibilities of royal power. And maybe Hammurabi has a few royal officials — noblemen, the Babylonian equivalent of dukes and earls and whatnot — who had similar training from birth, and can carry out the same functions as the king. But if the kingdom gets large enough, eventually the administration of justice devolves — just as a practical matter — to the Very Clever Boys we discussed yesterday.

When you really think about it, says the Very Clever Boy, it’s all subjective. Forget the big stuff like murder. Take something equally objective-seeming, like the speed limit. Anyone who has ever driven a car knows that there’s NO “safe speed.” One of the closest shaves I’ve ever had on the road was because some sweet old granny decided to do 40 in her Medicare sled on the freeway in rush hour, and I know pretty much everyone has had a similar experience. So (says the Very Clever Boy), the seemingly objective law is really subjective, which means it’s really arbitrary…

At that point, someone like Hammurabi would have the Very Clever Boy charged with lèse-majesté and executed as a public menace, but here in this best of all possible worlds we’ve decided to reward our Very Clever Boys with tenure, where they teach less clever boys than themselves that, given the above, everything is — say it with me now — “just a social construction.” Those less clever boys get themselves elected by promising the masses all kinds of stuff — since, you know, it’s all just arbitrary anyway — and there you have it, the Current Year, in which the safest, sanest, freest society on earth turned itself into the USSR’s retarded little brother in the space of a half century.

There’s only one way out of the mess that I can see, and that’s to empower a group of exception-deciders to decide exceptions, not based on what they’ve done, but on who they ARE. To swing it all the way back up top, even something as simple as grading a midterm exam rests, at bottom, on something almost mystical. I know y’all hate this ooga-booga shit, and I’m no big fan of it myself, but look: I can tell you what an F paper looks like. I can show you what an A paper looks like. But a B? That’s a different story, and when it comes to telling you how to make a C into a B? Fuhgetaboudit.

It’s a category error. “B” doesn’t mean “it fulfills these three criteria, but fails on these two.” There’s no flowchart. Just like there’s no possible way to construct JudgeBot 3000, there’s no ProfessorBot 3000, either. When it comes right down to it, “B” means “you’re almost there; keep plugging!” and you get a B — instead of an A, or a C — because I, the professor, say so.

And look: I’m not “the professor” because of that diploma hanging on my office wall. That’s just the outward sign, the mark of my investiture. There’s a tradition going back nearly a thousand years — it’s not objective, but it sure as hell ain’t arbitrary. Salute the rank, not the man — and here again, the rank may not be objective, but it’s surely not arbitrary…

Alas, all of this seems to be nothing more than an updated version of Plato’s noble lie. We simply lack the civilizational self-confidence to say “because I said so.” We’re too self-aware. Any nobility — and permit me to be pompous for a sec, as professors qualify as noblesse de robe — which starts questioning the logical, practical, objective foundations of nobility is toast.

Things are what they are, because they are…. or they’re not, and if you want to know how the latter’s working out, just look around.

 


*This isn’t original to me, of course. It’s Carl Schmitt, a very difficult thinker who’s worth reading up on, though actually reading his stuff is… well, he’s German, leave it at that. Also associated with Cat Fancy, so, you know, very very bad.

 

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Quick Take: Knife-Wielding Maniacs

I  hope everyone’s enjoying the sight of every Leftist in America suddenly insisting that it’s totally normal for Black kids to stab each other. No, really — they’re really doing that.

It occurs to me that if you really wanted to make a case for “White supremacy,” then “insisting that every horrible stereotype the worst backwoods redneck has ever held about Blacks is 100% true” isn’t the worst way to do it. I mean, even super-cuck Ace of Spades gets it:

Well, I can tell you with 100% authority, knife-fighting is not normal in white communities.

If you’re telling me that knife-fighting is a standard operating procedure conflict resolution in black communities — well then, I think I have an explanation as to why blacks have more encounters with police, and I didn’t have to use the words “structural racism.”

There it is. When even the doyenne of the “vote harder!” civnat normie brigade is sounding like Bull Connor’s fussy little cousin…

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D&D World

Like lots of people in Our Thing, I often refer to the current iteration of The Matrix as “clown world.” The problem is, we’ve got a sometime commenter here whose handle is “Clown World,” and as he’s doing yeoman’s work exposing the lunacy Down Under, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. I thought about calling it “Carny World,” or figuring out how to embed a .wav file of “Entry of the Gladiators” every time I write about events in Tubman, DF,* but I’m leaning towards calling it “Dungeons and Dragons World” — D&D World for short. Like lots of things here at Rotten Chestnuts, the explanation is probably way too long a run for way too short a payoff, but what else are ya gonna do? Put the phone down and go play outside?

Like all nerdy kids of a certain age, I knew about Dungeons and Dragons growing up. The “board game” version was the subject of one of those great moral panics we have every couple of years here under the bigtop; it even got a very bad made-for-tv movie starring a young Tom Hanks. Those who played the RPG were too nerdy even for me — a high bar, as you might imagine — but a few years later I got into the computer, then console, versions. Skyrim and the Fallout games are the latest I’m aware of, I’m sure there have been many more since, but everyone knows what I’m talking about, right?

Anyway, if you’re too old or young to have played them yourself, the way you create your character (this is the “role-playing” bit) is by distributing “attribute points” to various skills and characteristics. It got pretty elaborate there by the time Skyrim etc. rolled around, but there were always broad categories like “strength” and “intelligence,” which in turn affected specific skills (lockpicking, magic, etc.). The “attribute point” design was very clever, such that you pretty much couldn’t make a balanced character that was at least competent at everything. You had to choose one type or another, and that choice dictated how you had to approach the game. You need so many “intelligence” points to throw effective spells, for instance, and getting that level of “intelligence” meant skimping on “strength” — such that if you let yourself get into a situation where you had to haul out a warhammer and start smashing, you’d be in serious trouble. And vice versa, all down the line.

I think “attribute points” are a pretty good way of describing the basic personality types out in the real world, too. Yeah yeah, I know, we’re all precious and unique snowflakes in theory, but in reality most people fall into a few readily observable types. The PUAs have their own elaborate taxonomy, which they call the “socio-sexual hierarchy,” and if you have a few years to waste online you’re free to head down that rabbit hole, but I think “hit points” works better for most situations. I haven’t doped this all out in my head — I mean, c’mon man, I’m not that nerdy — but we can use the Seven Deadly Sins, and the corresponding Cardinal Virtues, as a rough guide. Yeah, I know, that’s fourteen axes, which makes for tough mental math, but real life is messy, yeah?

Anyway, I think all of us come out of the box with our “hit points” distributed into those categories. As with the later, more elaborate RPGs, you can modify them somewhat through experience and training (or let them degrade through disuse), but whatever you’ve got in you when the doc slaps your wet backside is your baseline, your natural personality, the thing you revert to in times of high stress.  To extend the already wildly overtaxed metaphor a bit further, you’re “naturally” a Barbarian, or a Wizard, or whatever, and though you can alter some of your secondary attributes — sometimes radically — that’s what you really are at bottom.

I’ll give you an example. If I’m any good at all at diagnosis society’s ills — if I do in fact see patterns that lots of other people miss, and let’s stipulate arguendo that I do — it’s because I came out of the box pretty low on “Envy.” No one can deny that Karl Marx is, or until very recently was, the genius of the age, and Marxism is nothing more than sacralized envy, not-so-cleverly disguised as a philosophical and economic system. Since I’m low on Envy, it doesn’t really bother me that some folks have more than I do, even if — as so often happens — it’s not “fair.” Yeah yeah, I get as frustrated as everyone else with goofs like George W. Bush, who were born on third base and act like they hit a triple, but I don’t reorganize my life around hating him for it, the way so many people do. Whoever said life is fair?

The same holds for all the other “hit point” configurations. Sure, I’d love to have LeBron’s jump shot (and be 6’10” or whatever he is), but it doesn’t keep me awake at night, knowing that I’m at best average height and not real athletic. If anything, being low on Envy means I’m constantly in danger of falling into the Pharisee’s sin, thanking the Lord that I’m not like lesser men in the areas where I excel. Or — and we’re inching closer to the point, such as it is, I promise — I suffer from… I dunno… reverse Pharisee syndrome? Tithonus syndrome?

Let me go: take back thy gift:
Why should a man desire in any way
To vary from the kindly race of men[?]

That’s pretty pompous, I realize, but there was a time when I really, really wanted to be “just one of the guys.” Like my boiler room colleagues. Yeah, I like watching football and drinking beer and shooting the shit around the water cooler as much as anyone, but they seemed to find it meaningful in a way I never could. They could leave work at the office, while I rolled out of bed every morning certain that I was wasting my life — NOT because I was caught up in “materialism” or whatever, but in some way I couldn’t define. I felt like a dog staked out in the yard — most of the time I was dully “happy,” I guess, but a few times a day I’d forget where I was and just go… only to be yanked back by the fucking chain. Again, I realize this is overdramatic, but see above: Karl Marx is the genius of the age, and nobody did supercharged hyperbole like Onkel Karl…

Fortunately there was a way out for me, a job I could do where I didn’t feel like that all the time. But there isn’t for a lot of people, and so — here, at long last, is the point — they let their natural dose of Envy run wild.

I trust we all realize, after nearly half a century marinating in it, that the cult of “self-esteem” isn’t really about building up life’s losers? It’s about tearing down the winners. That’s all it has ever been about. Being both “not the world’s most athletic” and “less than normally envious,” I knew exactly what my participation trophy was worth… and so did everyone else, which was: nothing. Nobody, not even Chad Thundercock, cares about the fucking hardware. We might all get the same color ribbon as Chad, but Chad still goes out with Cheerleader Becky, while we get stuck with Rosie Palmer. From this, everyone but Chad learns: Effort is meaningless.

Note: Effort. Not excellence. Excellence is still meaningful, because it gets you girls.

Since that didn’t work, the Very Clever Boys back in the days had to kick it up a notch. Hence Postmodernism. If Marxism is just sacralized envy, the PoMo is just Frenchified sour grapes. The whole point of PoMo was to make sincerity impossible. Truth is beauty and beauty, truth, as I think Snoop Dogg once said, and indeed that’s been one of the cornerstones of Western thought since Socrates’s day… Socrates, who was universally regarded as the ugliest man in Athens, and who turned the studly Archaic Greeks into a bunch of sophistry-addled girly men. Thus said Nietzsche, anyway, and I have to hand it to the Manly Mustache Man, he got that one right — if anyone deserved the death penalty, it was Socrates.

Civilization survived Socrates, as it will probably survive PoMo, but in the meantime we have to live with the obvious consequences — if there’s no Truth, only “truth,” then it follows there’s no Beauty either, and if you doubt it, go on down to the local kindergarten, where drag queen story hour is in full swing as we speak. And so it goes with all art, all literature, all everything — since those are all expressions of an enduring idea of capital-B Beauty, those things gotta go. You can listen to “Wet Ass Pussy” if you like, and not consider yourself a grunting savage, because you, Clever Boy, are doing it ironically. Heck, you can probably listen to the Eroica if you want to, but you’d better have a reason for it — some justification for indulging in all that White Supremacy and Toxic Masculinity. Justify yourself!!

In a world before mass communication, and especially before antisocial media, the Very Clever Boys had to keep their envy in check. They had to train themselves, RPG style, to overcome it, or at least to disguise it, or sublimate it, because if they didn’t  — if they started tearing down beer and football and water cooler bullshit, they’d be ostracized at best, beaten at worst. Instead, we’ve let these freaks off the chain, and now the Magic Kingdom is being overrun by orcs.

 

 

 


That’s “Tubman, Distrito Federal,” as the Imperial Capital will soon enough be called, once Prezzydizzle Kamala is overthrown in a palace coup and La Presidenta por Vida Ocasio-Cortez is installed. Please update your Official Rotten Chestnuts Lexicon, and credit MBlanc46 for the coinage.

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Lessons from Manchuria

Today’s situation, insane as it is, is not without precedent. Step with me into the Wayback Machine. It’s the 1930s, and we’re in Manchuria, soon to be known to the Japanese (and absolutely no one else) as Manchukuo….

There are a lot of subtleties and nuances to all this, of course, and I’m by no means a field expert, but the basic story is simple enough. Back around the turn of the 20th century, the Russians decided to build a railroad across Siberia, the better to (among other things) supply their spiffy new naval base at Port Arthur, on the strategic Liaodong Peninsula (linking up with their Chinese Eastern Railway). This pissed off the Japanese, who claimed the Peninsula by right of conquest in the First Sino-Japanese War. Unpleasantness ensued.

Further unpleasantness ensued in the wake of World War I, when both Imperial Russia and Republican China collapsed. The Japanese had a big railroad project of their own going in the Kwantung Leased Territory, which was threatened by the chaos. Moreover, the big Japanese railroad project had grown — as Japanese industrial concerns tend to do — into a ginormous, all-encompassing combine known as Mantetsu.

So far, so recondite, I suppose, but stop me if this part sounds familiar: Mantetsu was so big, and so shady, that it was all but impossible to tell where “the guys running Mantetsu” ended and “the Japanese government” began. And it gets better: Thanks to the Japanese Empire’s distinctive (to put it mildly, and kindly) administrative structure, it was equally hard to tell where “the Japanese government” ended and “the Japanese military” began. Even better — by which I mean much, much worse, but again feel free to stop me when this sounds familiar — “the Japanese military” was itself composed of several wildly different, mutually hostile chains of command, all competing with each other for political power, economic access, and glory. Best of all — by which, again, I mean worst — since Mantetsu was so big, and so wired-in to every level of the Japanese government, it basically got its own army, which was effectively separate even from the Army High Command back in Tokyo.

Here again, the granular details are insanely complex, and I’m not qualified to walk you through them, but the upshot is: Thanks to all of the above, plus the active enmity of the rapidly-rearming Soviet Union and the rapidly-accelerating chaos of the Warlord Period in China, Japan’s foreign policy ended up being dictated by the Kwantung Army, with almost no reference to even the High Command, let alone the civilian politicians, back in Tokyo. A particular warlord giving the Mantetsu Board of Directors — or, you know, whoever — grief? No problem — boom! Oh, that didn’t solve the problem, and now the politicians are dragging their feet? Might as well blow up a different part of your own railway, seize a whole bunch of territory on that flimsy pretext, and set up a puppet government to give you cover…

I don’t expect y’all to follow all the links right away, so trust me on this: Nobody involved in any of that stuff ranked higher than colonel. Indeed, the guy most “responsible” — if that’s really the word — for all of this stuff was a staff pogue, also a colonel, named Kanji Ishiwara. He and another staff pogue, Seishiro Itagaki, who was head of the Kwantung Army’s intelligence section, orchestrated the Japanese invasion of China, and while it’s oversimplifying things a bit too much to say those two clowns started World War II in the Pacific, I’m not stopping you from saying it.*

From there, events took on a logic of their own. The rest of the Army was soon committed to the war in North China, which rapidly became the war in all the rest of China. The Navy, not wanting to let the Army hog all the glory, had gotten in on the war a few years prior to the Marco Polo Bridge, and soon enough they were causing all kinds of international grief on their own account. Put simply, but not unfairly, you had the Navy chasing the Army, and the Army chasing itself, all across China, with the civilian politicians lagging way behind in the rear, desperately trying to catch up, or even just figure out what the hell was going on…

Again, feel free to stop me if this sounds familiar.

It’s important to note that by this time, anyone with any brains in any branch of the military knew the Empire was screwed. China, like Russia, is basically unconquerable, and the Japanese surely knew it. They had a vast technological edge and a whole bunch of well-trained, well-disciplined (albeit by Japanese standards), battle-hardened troops… but China is just too big, and too populous. By the time Pearl Harbor rolled around, the Empire had well over a million troops, and their supporting air forces, tied down in China. They were already scraping the bottom of the barrel, manpower-wise. As late as 1944, the Empire’s main military objective was still China, even though by that point the war was clearly lost. Having been dragged in by renegade junior officers in Manchuria, she had no way to get out, short of total defeat…

…well, that’s not quite true. There was a time when, perhaps, a negotiated settlement could’ve been achieved. Alas, that time was 1932, and when the Army was asked to provide an estimated timetable for their hypothetical withdrawal from Manchuria, they responded “one thousand years.” Which is exactly what Mantetsu wanted to hear, and, well… you know the rest. The only thing to note here is the misunderstanding, which persists right down to the present day, that Japan’s rejection of the Lytton Report was somehow a failing of the League of Nations. I guess it was, in the sense that a stronger organization than the League could theoretically have gone to war against Japan over Manchukuo, but that never would’ve happened in the real world.

Rather, the important point is that Japan had no choice but to reject the Lytton Report, since neither the civilian government nor the Army High Command could rein in the Kwantung Army even if they wanted to… and most of them didn’t want to, because, again, who really knows where Mantetsu ended and the government began? Combine that with the undeniable loss of face a withdrawal would entail, and events had to take their course, despite everyone from Yamamoto on down knowing what the end result must be (the Japanese Navy had been using “plot an attack on the US base at Pearl Harbor” as a final exam for its Academy graduates since at least the late 1920s).

The only questions are, who is “our” Ishiwara Kanji?” and “when will he pull the trigger?”

 

 


*It’s possible Itagaki was a general at this time; I’m doing a lot of this from memory, and Wiki doesn’t give his rank during the Mukden Incident. He was certainly a general by the end of the war — indeed, briefly the War Minister — and so was Ishiwara, but I think he was a colonel when he headed the Kwantung Army intelligence section.

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Is vs. Ought II: Moral Foundations Theory

As we noted below, here in The Current Year any attempt to restore the is/ought distinction must start with science. Since Normie “conservatives” seem to love that Jonathan Haidt guy, let’s start there.

[Editorial aside: Jesus, how fucking pathetic are Normies? Haidt is a flaming Leftie (and, yes, sigh, (((of course))). He regards y’all as lab rats — “let’s see if we can’t figure out just why these cousin-pokin’, Bible-thumpin’, NASCAR-watchin’, gun-strokin’, gap-toothed inbred hicks are so awful… aside from the obvious, of course.” And yet when he concludes that “conservatives” aren’t completely evil — just… ya know… kinda “special”… y’all act like he’s given you a gold star and a cookie].

Here‘s the link if you want to dive into it; I’m going to cut to the chase:

According to Moral Foundations Theory, differences in people’s moral concerns can be described in terms of five moral foundations:

  • Care: cherishing and protecting others; opposite of harm
  • Fairness or proportionality: rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating
  • Loyalty or ingroup: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal
  • Authority or respect: submitting to tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion
  • Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation

These five foundations are argued to group into two higher-order clusters – the person-focused Individualizing cluster of Care and Fairness, and the group-focused Binding cluster of Loyalty, Authority and Sanctity.

From this, Haidt and the gang* conclude that the two “higher-order clusters” represent Liberals and Conservatives, respectively, and right there the astute — by which I mean, non-concussed — reader will note that we’ve hit a problem: The dilithium crystals have reversed polarity, Cap’n. How are we ever supposed to distinguish “ought” from “is,” when we can’t even manage to identify “is” correctly?

There’s a reason “social science” is all horseshit, and that reason is: surveys. All of this stuff is based on surveys, and as it happens, I have quite a bit of experience of being on the receiving end of these. You see, back in grad school I was involved with a young lady in the Soash Department — I know, I know, but a man has certain needs, ya feel me? — and so I was always on call to take whatever goofy little tests they dreamed up, as a favor to her and her equally spastic hardcore Lefty friends. Anecdotes aren’t data, of course, but I’ve got a lot of anecdotes, and I can tell you — anecdotally — that there are two huge, self-reinforcing problems with these surveys: a) respondent pool, and b) design.

The respondent pool is, overwhelmingly, college kids taking them for class credit. Knowing what we know about Basic College Girls, who again are the majority of all college kids, is it any surprise that the results just happen to confirm the conclusions the slightly older, but no less Basic, Grad Student Girls were looking for? Throw in the design problem — questions about as subtle as “Do you think all races should be treated equally, or are you a monster?” — and you’ve got scientific proof that Liberals are good people and Conservatives suck.

What you have with these surveys, in short, is a perfect snapshot of Leftists’ self concept. They think — they know — they’re always and everywhere on the side of the angels, so is it any surprise that they award themselves perfect scores in the “Care” and “Fairness” categories? But in the real world, the one outside of Soash surveys, we know that the Opposite Rule of Liberalism is ironclad. Let’s look again at Haidt’s list:

Opposite of harm? Jogger please. Ask the citizens of Portland or Minneapolis how that’s working out. Even “moderate” Liberals are openly lusting to put badthinkers in gulags.

Rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating? I guess ya got me there, as the totally legitimate, not at all fraudulent election of President Biden will amply confirm.

And then the “conservative” values:

Loyalty or ingroup: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal. Yes, that’s certainly been my experience, that Leftists are completely indifferent to their standing within the group — you know, freethinking iconoclasts that they are. Certainly the #Cancel mob is stuffed cheek-to-jowl with country club Republicans.

Authority or respect: submitting to tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion. How dare you question Liberals’ commitment to their freethinking iconoclasm? You should at least be in Facebook jail, if not actual jail, since questioning today’s iteration of the One True Faith is a hate crime.

Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation. See also: drag queen story hour, and I think we can truly say that Alanis Morissette left the building quite a while back.

But even after that, it’s not all worthless. Like I used to tell students back in my teaching days, the point of studying history isn’t to avoid making the mistakes of the past — that’s impossible, people being people. The point is to compare some stuff that people did, to some other stuff that people did, in order to get a better handle on how people are. So let’s bring Thomas Malthus back in, and ask him what he’d think of all this.

Recall that Malthus was a clergyman.  The reason he didn’t take the obvious-to-us next step in his Essay on the Principle of Population was because, as a clergyman, it would never occur to him to do anything other than try to improve the lot of the actually existing souls under his care. He’d no more argue for letting the urban poor stave, on the theory that it was better for “society” in the long run, than he’d argue that the urban poor might as well take up Islam for all he cares, since, you know, the only real point of religion is to keep the masses docile by encouraging pro-social behavior.

Ask Malthus what he thinks of Haidt’s list, then, and he’d probably reply something along the lines of “This is a very elaborate way of saying that people need to get right with God. Care vs. harm, loyalty vs. betrayal, purity vs. degradation, and the rest — all these are the things a loving-yet-stern god like Jehovah holds within Him, in perfectly productive tension. His commands, and our failure to consistently follow them, are the wellspring of culture, and you can no more derive ‘morals’ from sociology surveys than you can derive ‘ought’ from ‘is.””

Thus the failure of sociobiology isn’t in the methodology — that’s just incorrect, and could in theory be easily fixed. Nor is it in the conclusions — again, those are just incorrect, and even if we flip them to better reflect reality (it’s liberals who are obsessed with purity, etc.), the fundamental problem would remain, and it’s this: People are hardwired for belief. Any theory which doesn’t take our firmware into account — as “Moral Foundations Theory” clearly doesn’t — is doomed to fail.

Not to bang on poor Malthus too much, but just as he failed to see the glaring contradiction at the very heart of his theory (see footnote to previous entry), so I find it baffling that the I Fucking Love Science(TM) crowd can’t see that they believe in far more obviously wrong nonsense than the goofiest witch doctor in the darkest heart of the Congo. We’re running long here, but look: I can’t prove to you that God exists, or doesn’t, but I can easily prove that Liberals’ main assumption about the world — blank slate equalism — is wrong.

Really, all you need to do is what Dr. Johnson did to George Berkeley — go to any ghetto in America, kick a homie in his sidewalk-dragging pants, and yell “I refute it thus!” — but if you want to take the trouble to really drive the point home, use the Z Man’s great phrase: Thirteen does Fifty. That’s “percentage of Africans-in-America in the population” and “the percentage of homicides committed nationally by ditto,” respectively. Liberals have been desperately searching for any other explanation for this fact since at least the1950s — no, really, Brown v. Board was 1954 — and they’ve all failed hilariously. Which means it’s either a) biology, or b) magic, and since their dogma rules out a) they’ve gone with b). It’s a combination of Magic Dirt and Magic Shapes — move them to the Magic Dirt of the suburbs, and take away all the Magic Shapes of guns in the suburbs, and Shitavious and Sasqueetchia will be drinking soy lattes and developing smartphone apps in no time.

I realize we’re a ways away from “is” vs. “ought” here, so… Part III coming soon.

 

 

 

 

 


*I know we have our political, religious, and above all philosophical differences around here, kameraden, but I think we can all agree that “Hate and the Gang” would be a kickass name for a Rage Against the Machine-style Dissident rock band.

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