Flat Affects and Alice Games

Since I’ve spent a lot of time in and around the Ed Biz, people often ask me if professors really believe their own bullshit.  The things they say are so outlandish — and their private behavior is so opposed to their public sentiments — that they must be lying, right?

I don’t think so.  At its higher levels, academia is pretty much a cult, and college is a kind of low rent mind control.  I’m pretty sure the big boys — the college presidents who pull down a million per — know it’s a scam; except for the Diversity clowns, everyone else is a true believer.

The first thing any cult does with a new recruit is to flatten, or at least narrow, their affect.  Your affect — the characteristic way you express emotion — is socially conditioned.  Altering that breaks your social conditioning, and since we all strive to fit in with our society, the recruit will quickly rebuild his affect in the cult-approved manner.  Here’s a good, quick description of how Scientology does it.  TR (training routine)-0 strives for an absolutely flat affect — first, recruits have to stare at each other, unmoving, for up to two hours; next, they have to remain unresponsive to stimuli as their trainers yell at them and degrade them.

Mandatory “sensitivity” seminars are the obvious parallel here, and while those things work (any conditioning works, given time) the college environment itself is more efficient.  College kids aren’t robots.  They don’t have flat affects, but they do have extremely narrow ones.  From the moment they step on campus, they’re trained to be binary — either idling in neutral or revved up past eleven.  Everything in their world is designed to be all-or-nothing — football games and keggers, of course, but also term papers and exam crams.  In my experience, even the most responsible kids — the ones who are officers in a zillion clubs, who volunteer on weekends, the resident assistants in dorms — tend to put off all their work until the last minute, then Adderall up and pull a series of allnighters.  The irresponsible ones, meanwhile, are getting blackout drunk.  We’ve discussed this before; it’s incredible if you haven’t seen it firsthand.  They drift zombie-like through their classes (if they bother to go to class), then blow their brains out with Jaeger shots on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

Zero or eleven, all or nothing, all the time.  Is it any surprise, then, that when they get worked up, they have shrieking meltdowns?

Social media reinforces it.  The world only knows about Vodka Sam because she tweeted about it, and I can promise you that the universal reaction among her peer group was: “dude, you made the paper!  Cooooool!”  It’s not just drunken shenanigans, though.  It’s everything else.  Clickbait hot takes aside, of course Facebook is turning us into narcissists.  Narcissism is not grandiosity.  It’s creating a one-dimensional identity for yourself, then trying to force the rest of the world to conform to it:

Facebook is a neutral tool, it’s what you do with it that matters.  You think the “I’m better than everybody!” status updates are evidence of narcissism, and maybe they are, but the deeper pathology exists in those who derive their identities from that online presence while simultaneously retreating from the real world.  Show me a man or woman who posts pictures of themselves in bathing suits and I shrug my shoulders.  Show me a person who spends more than an hour a day on Facebook and it isn’t their job and I’ll show you a future divorce even if they’re not married yet.  Show me a middle aged person who spends >1 hr a day on facebook, and I’ll show you someone who has been to a psychiatrist.  It’s not an insult, it is a statement of fact.  Each person tries to find ways of affirming themselves; but when it is done through identity and not behavior, it always leads to misery.

Sure, you can convince 5000 people you’re anything.  Then what?

It is self-reinforcing.  The type of person who withdraws into facebook is already stunted in their potential for happiness; and if you’re spending all your energy on facebook then you’re not spending it in ways that might actually work.  The problem isn’t facebook, the problem is you.

Which leads to the obvious conclusion:

Narcissism has a fail-safe: since you know you tricked [your last girlfriend] to get them, you can’t believe them when they say they love you.  The fact that she loves you means she’s not smart enough to know  what love is.  That’s why you default to measurable quantities of love: how fast did she get into bed with the past guys?

Just because she thinks you’re awesome, doesn’t mean you can really feel her.

College kids have point-and-click personalities — post only things that get thumbs-ups, unfriend anyone who gives you a thumbs down, and pretty soon, you are exactly what you say you are…. on Facebook.  Real world be damned.  Alas, the real world is still out there, but thanks to the proliferation of identity clubs and their associated Studies classes, you can spend four to six years almost entirely isolated from it.  I’m really not joking about this: From the first class meeting — hell, from the minute they walk in the door in most cases — I can tell exactly what I’m going to get on half my students’ term papers.  The gay kid is going to give me a paper about gayness, the feminist is going to give me a feminist paper, the black kid’s paper will be “Black Black Blackity Black: A Case Study in Blackness,” &c.  The class’s actual subject doesn’t matter; it could be a seminar on Medieval Finnish Literature and I’d still get “Blackity Blackness in the Kalevala” and “lesbians were the real Vikings.”

Meanwhile, back in the dorms, they compete for status within their obsessive little micro-group, everyone getting weirder and weirder as they try to one-up each other.  This is why you will be made to care.  Without their causes to define them, these kids have nothing.  Zero or eleven, all the time, and since the real world resoundingly replies “zero”….

…. And that’s if the real world can even understand what these Snowflakes are going on about, which we can’t.  This is the second pillar of milieu control, as sociologists call it (and Lifton is still well worth reading) — impenetrable jargon.  Here again, Scientology is the trend-setter.  They’re notorious for their weird lingo, but they should be better known for the softening-up technique that prepares you to learn the lingo.  Called “Dear Alice” or “Alice Games,” in this TR

context-free snippets from Alice [in Wonderland], printed on a sheet of paper, are read by the student to the coach [and vice versa]… Here, canned script from a master storyteller conjures up some fantastic and nonsensical images, which the student must refuse to process [by reacting] or fail the exercise. The result is robotic repetition of nonsense phrases…Rather than conditioning you for the real world where nonsense is met with questions for clarification, [Scientology founder L.] Ron [Hubbard] is conditioning the mark to confront “Scieno-speak.”

Snark aside — and fair warning, the snark unfortunately makes that site nearly unreadable — the reporter nails it.  Don’t question; just repeat the mumbo-jumbo verbatim, or you fail.  Sound familiar?  This is the one and only reason professors get away with saying the stupid shit they do.  Repeat enough times, and the rote repetition of nonsense simply is communication.  I’ve sat through entire graduate seminars where all we did was agree with each other in increasingly elaborate ways, one-upping each other with ever-more-radical nerdspeak.  Pity the poor undergraduates who are taught by these people!

Put it together, and you get an entire group of people who say nothing, believe nothing, communicate nothing… but with a passionate, life-destroying intensity.  It doesn’t matter what Trigglypuff was all worked up about.  She herself didn’t know, and it wouldn’t do any good to ask her — she can’t explain it, any more than the frat bros and sorority sisters can explain why it’s a good idea to pickle their livers every weekend.  They couldn’t even comprehend the question….

…. and neither could their teachers.  And that, friends, is what’s wrong with education today, and it’s why profs believe their own bullshit: Flat affect and Alice games.

Know Your Leftist: Antonio Gramsci

Introducing a new series, “Know Your Leftist” — a brief intro to a major Left figure’s work.  Caveats: 1) This is not a comprehensive overview.  2) Unless absolutely necessary, we’ll avoid technical vocabulary.  3) We’ll avoid historiography, too — we’re not going into the weeds of A’s critique of B’s deviation of C’s revisionism, ivory tower-style, because a) it’s unnecessary and b) it’s boring and c) that’s how eggheads try to convince everyone they’re smart.

Look: You don’t actually need to read these guys.  I haven’t, for the most part, and have no intention to, because their actual words don’t matter much anymore.  The “conservative” parallel is the Bible:  Lefty spews some talking point about how Jesus was really a communist or whatever, citing some cherrypicked line of scripture.  You can cite chapter and verse at them, complete with exegesis on the whole of the Gospel in question, but… does that ever work?  It’s the impression that matters.  The chestnut.  The stuff “everybody knows.”  For a certain type of person, “everybody knows” Jesus was really a socialist, and they behave accordingly.*  Thus, so many of our Leninists don’t know they’re Leninists, have never read Lenin, and wouldn’t recognize him if he sent their whole family to die in a Siberian lumber camp.  So, too, with our modern Gramscians, which is where we’ll start.  Gramsci’s actual thought is different from what modern eggheads have made of it, but as they’re the ones who are destroying what’s left of society, they’re the ones that count.

Who was he?: An Italian Marxist who got crosswise with Mussolini and thus spent a lot of time in prison, where he wrote his most important works.

What he got right: “Hegemony;” civil society vs. political society; the role of intellectuals.

Gramsci set himself the task of explaining why the Revolution not only wasn’t happening, but seemed further away than ever.  Looking at the Western world in the wake of World War I, he couldn’t help noticing that people were much better off than they were before — happier, freer, longer-lived, healthier, all of which Marx said was impossible given the late stage of capitalism.  Of course Marx couldn’t be wrong, so Gramsci theorized that the state is actually two states — the political state and the civil state — and the latter (the bourgeoisie) compromise with the former (the capitalists) to improve their position relative to the proletariat.

Those compromises take place almost entirely in the realm of culture — bourgeois values (what we call “Western Civ”) becomes “normal,” which keeps the proletariat from forming their own culture of resistance, which keeps them down.  This dominance of bourgeois culture is known as “hegemony,” and it’s perpetuated through academia, the media, etc.  Thus, Gramsci argued, Left intellectuals needed to take those institutions over, thus beginning the long march through the institutions… with what results, it’s hardly necessary to say.

occupy girl2

He accurately described the role of intellectuals in the academy during this process.  Infogalactic says:

Such “organic” intellectuals do not simply describe social life in accordance with scientific rules, but instead articulate, through the language of culture, the feelings and experiences which the masses could not express for themselves. The need to create a working-class culture relates to Gramsci’s call for a kind of education that could develop working-class intellectuals, whose task was not to introduce Marxist ideology from without the proletariat, but to renovate the existing intellectual activity of the masses and make it critical of the status quo.

In other words, the purpose of a Gramscian intellectual is to make more Gramscian intellectuals, who, as good proles, forever put feelz above realz.  Again, with what result, it’s hardly necessary to say.  But it explains academia’s fetish for the debased, vulgar, and deviant.  In the Fifties and Sixties, wannabe-intellectuals like Jack Kerouac sold other wannabe-intellectuals on the idea that the bad parts of prole culture are “authentic;” the worse, the better.  So “authenticity” isn’t just acting like a buffoon to make your daddy mad; it’s, like, critique of society, maaaan.  Fast forward 50 years, and academia is nothing but a celebration of deviance — “freaking out the squares” is, was, and always will be the whole point.  And now they have cultural hegemony.

What he got wrong:  Aside from the whole Communism thing, nothing.  Hegemony really works that way.  All modern “intellectuals” — that is, anyone who doesn’t use the word “intellectual” with a cynical snicker — simply IS a Gramscian organic intellectual.  Which is why we’re screwed.

Further reading: As I said, you don’t really need to read these guys, but reading about them sometimes helps.  Roger Kimball has two books on the university, Tenured Radicals and The Long March, that are quick fun reads.  If nothing else, you’ll know for sure what a scam “higher” “”””education”””” is.

 

 

*That they don’t follow this out and actually practice Christianity along with their socialism tells you that they understand neither Jesus nor Socialism, and also cognitive dissonance is bullshit, but whaddaya gonna do?  If they could do the whole “logic” thing, they wouldn’t be Leftists.

 

The Curse of the Participation Trophy

These days, I routinely hand out As to college kids for work that would’ve barely gotten me a C in junior high.  It’s not because I’m a softie — I’m forever on the verge of getting fired for failing half my classes, and my student evals are brutal.  It’s because the general educational level of high school graduates is so low that their “essays” read like Nintendo cut scenes from the mid-80s:

Aybabtu

I’ve been everywhere from the bush leagues to the Ivy League, and I’m only exaggerating a little when I say that all you need to ace any liberal arts class, at any university in America, is a semi-coherent stab at answering the question, with cited facts and no glaring typos.

That’s a problem, obviously, but an even bigger problem is a second order effect of all those easy As.  What happens to the best of the rest?

It’s never the worst off who start revolutions.  They’re too busy trying to keep body and soul together.  Your paradigmatic revolutionary is a guy with enough on the ball to feel entitled to a nice middle-class life, but without enough on the ball to go out and earn it.  Guys like Lenin, Mao, et al would’ve happily lived out their lives playing make-believe in the faculty lounge, had their societies enough middle-class sinecures to accommodate them.  Being reduced to a prole was intolerable to them, but they had no upward mobility, so the only thing to do was overturn society.

Since the Sixties, our university system has seemingly dedicated itself to turning out exactly this type of guy.

It’s still possible to get a world-class education at an American university.  You just have to study a Right Answer subject.  Students who pass Calc II will have no problem getting a middle class job.  Students who attempt, but fail, Calc II will learn a lesson almost as valuable: They may be smart, but they don’t have the kind of smarts that really matter in a knowledge economy.

It’s those folks who can’t pass Calc II — and never try — that end up being the problem.  Thanks to the administration’s obsession with collecting Diversity Pokemon, it’s impossible to fail anyone who actually turns in the work.  So if “all your base are belong to us” is a D — and trust me, compared to the efforts of the typical Diversity Pokemon, it’s practically a B — what could A+ work possibly look like?  Again, I’m kidding, but I’m not joking: Recognizable English*, no typos, somewhat relevant, not obviously plagiarized… that’s an A, in pretty much any Liberal Arts class on any campus in America.

As recently as the early Aughts, it didn’t matter.  We could absorb all the fake As with the same prosperity that let us absorb all the Diversity Pokemon and their degrees — after all, that’s what HR staffs and Studies departments are for.  But now that prosperity is gone, and the kid who got an A for writing #BlackLivesMatter a hundred times on his term paper is nail-spitting furious that his fancy degree from Stanford can’t get him a part-time barista gig.

So he goes out and riots in the streets.  It’s going to get a lot, lot worse.

 

 

*A huge problem in itself.  As lots of American parents are finally starting to see the futility of college, schools are going all-in on recruiting rich foreign students who pay full freight.  Their English is nonexistent.  It’s such a joy.

The Point of It All

“Game” blogger Heartiste has a report on racist babies (really university psych department pseudoscience), from which he concludes:

our Equalist Underlords are dehumanists, wishing to cleanse the world of its humanity and replace it with a dehumanized slurry of deracinated emotionless self-deluding automatons feeding the atomized consumerist borg.

Yep.  That’s the point.  You won’t find this in the history books, but sometime around 1979, all the former hippies realized that they really kinda liked capitalism.  Oh, not the war and racism stuff, but the other stuff.  The stuff stuff.  Think Mother Simpson running credit checks at Tom Hayden’s Porsche dealership.  Or, think Hillary Clinton doing anything.  Live like a satrap while preaching equality, that’s the Modern Left.

And as it turns out, the New Soviet Man — that “dehumanized slurry of deracinated emotionless self-deluding automaton” — is actually the ultimate consumer.  Marx, child of the Enlightenment that he was (born 1818), thought that a person stripped of all the old culture would be truly free.  We know that a person stripped of the old culture will do anything, anything at all, to belong.  Which is why we can sell him anything and everything.

tl;dr — this right here is modern Leftism:

rect-checap-pd

Yes, But Can You Explain WHY?

Ask anyone in the higher ed biz: Kids today are great at copying down lists.  We’d been trending that way for years, but thanks to good ol’ George W. and the Lake Woebegon Act of 2001, now all children are above average in that particular skill.  Yay standardized testing!

The problem is, lists aren’t explanations, and college work is all about explanations.  Yeah yeah, they’re all of the “explain why straight white males are evil” variety, but still, “X and Y, therefore Z” is a skill we expect our students to master.  Lists like this one aren’t helping.  Via Steve Sailer, via Vox Day, we have the Library of Congress’s 88 books that shaped America.  The LoC tells us

It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books – although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not.

See what I mean?  I get stuff like this on exams all the time, immediately preceding a straight regurgitation of bullet points from my lecture slides.  WHY and HOW was, say, Gone with the Wind so influential, LoC?  I’ll let you rewrite this question and resubmit it for half credit, but while you’re doing that, I’ll scrape together my own list as an example for the rest of the class.  And since there really were 88 books — seriously, LoC? — I’ll follow the Z Man’s suggestion and pick the 14 that really matter, one from roughly each time period.  Here’s how it’s done:

Early Colonial Period: Wonders of the Invisible World, Cotton Mather (1693).  One of the key documents surrounding the Salem Witchcraft Trials.  Those trials are, of course, among the most overdone subjects in American history, but Wonders is important for all that.  It’s a Harvard man explaining, as only a Harvard man can, all the rational, theological, and scientific reasons the North American colonies are under siege by the Devil.  That part of the country never really got over Puritanism; they’re still looking for witches to burn (in an eco-friendly, sustainable way, of course).  Wonders is a master class in Daddy Issues, Social Significance of, which in turn is the root of all modern Liberalism.

Middle Colonial Period: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Jonathan Edwards (1741).  The key document in the First Great Awakening, which solidified the transition from Puritan to Yankee.  A Puritan, you’ll recall, will cast you out of society for a whore after he’s fucked you over and robbed you, because God commands it.  A Yankee will fuck you over and rob you, then call you a whore, because a good Christian society doesn’t allow fornication.  Yankeeism is public Puritanism, minus predestination — all the preachy self-righteousness, minus the humility of the all-but-certainly hellbound.

Revolutionary Period: “Common Sense,” Thomas Paine (1775).  One of the proximate causes of the Revolution, “Common Sense” lays out the case for separating from a remote, despotic government that actively conspires against its citizens’ ancient rights.  I have no idea why that would be relevant today, but hey, I gotta put something here.

Early National PeriodNew England Primer, Anonymous (1803).  Get ’em while they’re young, and they’re yours forever.  The anonymous author is the great-granddaddy of all those modern educrats who should be decorating every lamppost in the land, which is to say, all modern educrats.  Dr. Goebbels called; he wants his morals back.

Jacksonian Era:Exposition and Protest,” John C. Calhoun (1828).  Lays out the case for Federalism as a bulwark against a remote, despotic government that actively conspires against its citizens’ ancient liberties.  I’ll leave the translation of the following as an exercise to the reader: “If it be conceded, as it must be by every one who is the least conversant with our institutions, that the sovereign powers delegated are divided between the General and State Governments, and that the latter hold their portion by the same tenure as the former, it would seem impossible to deny to the States the right of deciding on the infractions of their powers, and the proper remedy to be applied for their correction. The right of judging, in such cases, is an essential attribute of sovereignty, of which the States cannot be divested without losing their sovereignty itself, and being reduced to a subordinate corporate condition. In fact, to divide power, and to give to one of the parties the exclusive right of judging of the portion allotted to each, is, in reality, not to divide it at all; and to reserve such exclusive right to the General Government (it matters not by what department) to be exercised, is to convert it, in fact, into a great consolidated government, with unlimited powers, and to divest the States, in reality, of all their rights, It is impossible to understand the force of terms, and to deny so plain a conclusion.” I have no idea why this would be relevant today, but hey, I gotta put something here.

Antebellum Era (North)Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852).  Got the Yankees all riled up about the Peculiar Institution.  Lincoln is supposed to have quipped to Stowe, “So you’re the little lady who started this war.”  Probably apocryphal — get the Mount Vernon Association of Experts on it! — but true for all that.

Antebellum Era (South): The “Mudsill” Speech, James Henry Hammond.  The so-called “Marxism of the Master Class” — that is, a class-based justification for slavery — is much better explicated in George Fitzhugh‘s Cannibals All! or Slaves Without Masters (1857), but Fitzhugh was a true American original… meaning he was a deeply idiosyncratic guy, and though read in the South, he had nothing close to Hammond’s influence.  Fitzhugh’s a fun read, though, especially as he proudly proclaims that “slavery is the very best form of socialism.”  Trigger an SJW with it today!

Gilded Age (general)The Gilded Age, A Tale of Today, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner (1873).  The trope namer, as the kids today say.  As everybody knows, all that was good in the world happened in the Gilded Age — the Pullman Strike, the Haymarket Square Riot, the Molly Maguires, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie (Robber Baron version, not Philanthropist version), Plessy v. Ferguson… you know, all the stuff doofy academics and fightin’ nutroots keyboard warriors still talk about as if they happened two weeks ago.  Whatever gets you up in the morning, I guess (though it’s fun to point out that they get a lot of their sneering condescension from Mark Twain, a Southerner.  The horrors!).

Gilded Age (political):  What Social Classes Owe to Each Other, William Graham Sumner (1877).  The only refutation of “Progressivism” anyone should ever need.  Sumner so thoroughly demolished Marxism, equalism, and limpwristed namby-pambyism in general, that all the Left could really do is agree to pretend his book didn’t exist… which they continue to do right down to the present hour.  Hugely influential in its day, you’ll never see it referred to, and only crusty old academics and/or deep cover shitlords like yours truly have copies.  We sneak them to potential converts in the dead of night, like samizdat.

Gilded Age (social)My Dream of Heaven (Intra Muros), Rebecca Ruter Springer (1898).  The classic spiritual response to the Civil War, Intra Muros embodies the saccharine spirituality of the Gilded Age and prefigures all the “spiritualism” stuff the British middle classes would get into in the wake of World War I.

Progressive Era (economic):  Principles of Scientific Management, Frederick Winslow Taylor (1911).  Probably the most important work you’ve never heard of, Principles of Scientific Management is THE founding text of modern industrialism.  Taylor followed workers around with a camera and a stopwatch, looking for the most efficient way to do factory work.  Every utopian communist dream about the glorious robot future can be traced directly back to Taylorism… as can every dystopian nightmare about the horrible robot future.  You could probably go so far as to say that Taylor had a hand in founding modern science fiction, via stuff like R.U.R. and Metropolis, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Progressive Era (social)The Jungle, Upton Sinclair (1906).  Even my students have heard of this one, which tells you everything you need to know about how much the Proggies revere it.  Everyone in journalism today wants to be Upton Sinclair, even if they’ve never heard of him… which, being dumb as stumps and worse educated, they never have.

Progressive Era (education): Democracy and Education, John Dewey (1916).  The second most important book you’ve never heard of, Democracy and Education is, itself, the reason you’ve never heard of it.  Dewey rejected all that “facts” stuff in favor of exploration and free play.  Good for the self-esteem, you see.  It’s like the Dungeon Master’s Guide for teachers, and all the monsters are Special Little Snowflakes.

All Others: (tie) On the RoadJack Kerouac (1957) / The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger (1951).  Every Liberal in America — that is to say, everyone in the media, academia, and the Democratic Party; that is to say, pretty much everyone who is anyone in American culture — wanted to be Holden Caulfield as a teenager, and Dean Moriarty when they grew up.  Scratch that, most of them still think they are Holden Caulfield, and that’s your one-sentence explanation of every single thing that’s wrong with America today.

See, Library of Congress?  That’s how it’s done!  Feel free to add your own in the comments, Seven Regular Readers.

It’s Inevitable, Part III

Karl Marx was wrong about a lot of things — economics, human nature — but he was right about alienation:

The theoretic basis of alienation, within the capitalist mode of production, is that the worker invariably loses the ability to determine life and destiny, when deprived of the right to think (conceive) of themselves as the director of their own actions; to determine the character of said actions; to define relationships with other people; and to own those items of value from goods and services, produced by their own labour. Although the worker is an autonomous, self-realized human being, as an economic entity, this worker is directed to goals and diverted to activities that are dictated by the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, in order to extract from the worker the maximum amount of surplus value, in the course of business competition among industrialists.

Ignore the pseudo-economic jargon; the bolded phrase is the key.  Doesn’t that perfectly describe cultural life in 21st century America?

The entire cultural apparatus — all media, all education, K-thru-PhD — is dedicated to the Postmodern proposition that everything is a social construction.  And yet, nobody can ever point to a “society” that’s doing the “construction.”  That probably seems wrong, as the edutainment media complex blames everything on White Males.  But ask yourself: Do you personally know any white males — or anybody else for that matter — who has any of the powers ascribed to these fearsome creatures?   Sure, sure, Soros, the Koch Brothers, pick your devil, but again: do you personally know them?  Unless you’re in the “private jet for a ski weekend in the Swiss Alps” set, I bet you don’t (and if you are, what are you doing here?).  The richest, most powerful guy you know, I’m willing to wager, is effectively as powerless as you yourself are.  The Patriarch, for lack of a better term, is a myth — and everybody knows it.

Hence, alienation.  Which is more psychologically damaging, being told that you are a powerless pawn in the hands of an omnipotent elite… or being told that you are that elite, even as you see your supposed slaves voting you out of your job, your house, your country?  Either way, it’s no good.  Especially combined with that last part: deprived of the right to determine the character of their actions, and define their relationships with other people.  From Kindergarten, white kids are told that the character of all their actions is negative, and they relate to all others as exploiters.  Non-white kids are told that the character of their actions is “noble savage,” and they relate to whites as exploited.  That’s effectively the only thing you need to know to go all the way through a PhD; instilling that one lesson is the entire point of the American educational system, and they’re really good at it (h/t House of Eratosthenes).

It’s not psychologically sustainable.  Everyone needs something to believe in, as a wise man once said.  Hence the proliferation of weird sexual fetishes that become entire lifestyles: BDSM, furries, etc.  Or minor lifestyle fluff, that in normal times would hardly rise to the level of hobbies, becoming central parts of someone’s identity.  Fantasy football was a $70 billion dollar industry back in 2013… which, if I recall correctly, was Obama’s fifth straight “recovery summer,” i.e. the depths of the most serious depression since WWII.  Any guesses how much money grown men spend on anime, comic books, online gaming…?  And that doesn’t count porn, a $97 billion industry in its own right.  That’s just money, mind you — how many hours do you think all of that takes?  I’m not knocking anime, fantasy football, or porn.  I’m just asking you to consider how many hours of your life are taken up by those things — watching them, thinking about them, planning for them, discussing them.  There’s a large and growing segment of White America, I’m pretty sure, for which, if watching porn or online gaming were a job, their employers would be required to provide them an Obamacare plan.  That’s not good, but what other choice is there?  They’re not allowed to know anything about their culture, except that whatever it is, it’s evil.  So they have to make up their own…. and fight constant rearguard actions even then, as there’s no activity so obscure and pointless that the Left can’t politicize it.

Speaking of the Left, they suffer from this, too.  Worse, in fact — Wrongfans having Wrongfun isn’t a conservative preoccupation, after all.  DC people and Marvel people have strong opinions, I’m sure, but I don’t think they set out to ruin each others’ lives and families for holding the heretical opinion that Thor is better than Batman or whatever.  Lefties feel more alienated than anyone, which is why they’re so hysterical about everything — it’s nearly impossible to get the virtue signal through the noise.

Under those conditions, “all inside the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State” sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Huh: Trump is a 4-Dimensional Chess Master, Too!

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a book On the Art of War that’s worth reading (everything Machiavelli wrote is worth reading, if only for the prose), but it’s more instructive to remember the followup.  Soon after it was published, one of Italy’s condottieri decided to teach Machiavelli a lesson.  He invited the author to try out his book’s theories with an actual army out on maneuvers, and… well, it’s obvious how that turned out: Machiavelli made a hash of it.  I can’t remember the condottiere‘s quip as he straightened the situation out — as this was the Renaissance, I assume it was brilliant and cutting — but that, too, is obvious: Something along the lines of “leave the real-world stuff to the experts, egghead.”

Speaking of eggheads, I see the exact same fightin’ fightin’ keyboard warriors who were so ready to criticize dumbass ideologue Professor Obama for his profoundly stupid military decisions are spinning elaborate rationalizations for Trump’s profoundly stupid military decisions.  Remember how, back when, all the Lefties insisted that the stupid shit Obama did was actually brilliant, and you’d understand it if you could see 1,000 moves ahead like He can?

You all are doing that now.  Don’t do that.

All of you were quick to assure us that obvious bad guy and confirmed chemical weapons user Saddam Hussein must have WMDs, because hey, he’s an obvious bad guy with a well-known record of using chemical weapons.  But now, somehow, obvious bad guy and confirmed chemical weapons user Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons must be a false flag, because Trump wouldn’t be so stupid as to get us into another Middle East war…. because that’s the kind of thing an inexperienced egomaniac who’s in way over his head would do.  You know, a guy like Obama.

Yes yes, Vladimir Putin is one devious sumbitch, and the Israelis are worse, and the Neocons are Satan’s own jock sniffers.  We’ll take that as read; you don’t need to send me a 5,000 word caps locked missive.  And I take a backseat to no man in condemning the US military leadership and their jihad-induced priapism.  If a dorky nobody like Evan McMullin could get himself a Presidential bid with a quick junket to Baghdad, imagine what a real hot war could do for one’s career!  But none of that lets Trump off the hook, let alone proves he’s some kind of Obama-style n-dimensional chess master.

It’s pretty simple, y’all:  The best explanation for a bad guy using chemical weapons isn’t some elaborate conspiracy theory about Israelis, Russians, and false flags.  The best explanation is: A bad guy with a record of using chemical weapons used chemical weapons, because he’s a bad guy.  The best explanation for an amateur making the kind of mistakes an amateur who’s in way over his head makes is: He’s an amateur who’s in way over his head.

Occam’s Razor doesn’t just apply to Democrats, you know.

It’s Inevitable, Part II

As we noted yesterday, the United States is organized under the Enlightenment myth, and the Enlightenment’s assumptions — blank slate equalism, Reason — are false.*  Man is not the Rational Animal; Man is the Occasionally Reasoning Monkey.

So: Human society doesn’t result from a “social contract” between autonomous individuals.  Thomas Hobbes gave us that idea, and as much as I love him, he’s wrong — there’s a social contract, all right, but it’s both broader and simpler than he suggests.  The Hobbesian state of nature is a war of all groups against all groups, and the terms of the contract, when you get down to it, are: Submit, or be wiped out to the last man.  Since most groups don’t choose Masada, they get absorbed into the conqueror’s group.

Which sets the stage for inter-societal conflict.  In pretty much every way that matters, human culture is inter-social conflict — the tensions between groups battling it out for dominance over limited resources produces all art, all philosophy, all politics, all religion.  (Yes, even religion.  Marx was right about that, too, may he roast in hell — religious conflicts, too, are power struggles among contending elites, as proven by their results.  No Torquemada, Luther, Cromwell, etc. ever retires quietly to the monastery after imposing his vision on society, does he?)  “Contending classes,” as Gumplowicz called them, organize around a myth that lets them challenge the current elite and their organizing myth.**

The American and French Revolutions are a good example.  Both are children of the Puritan Revolution in England, in which the dominant class’s organizing myth of “divine right” was successfully challenged by the contending class’s myth of “universal rights.”***  Now codified as “The Enlightenment,” universal rights theory worked better to organize and motivate larger numbers of people to rebel against their sovereign…. and to consolidate the Revolutionaries’ power once they’d won.  This is the pattern in all revolutions, most certainly including our own.****  Problem is, all organizing myths are, you know, myths — eventually they’re exposed as fakes.  The Enlightenment’s blank-slate equalism is as obviously, farcically false as the old Divine Right of Kings.  Not too many folks are ready to die for it these days.

These days, of course, the reality of inter-social conflict is obvious.  We call our contending classes “races,” and it’s obvious they’re engaged in a war of all against all.  It’s equally obvious that our political system, based as it is upon the old-and-busted Enlightenment myth, can’t handle naked racial conflict.

So it won’t.

A new organizing myth will arise, because it has to.  One that sanctions naked racial self-aggrandizement, based on a different — more realistic, because more true to the science we all fucking love — conception of man.  And it just so happens that we have an old myth that fits the bill exactly… but nobody knows that it’s old, because what “everybody knows” about Fascism is wrong.

Part III soon.

 

 

 

*Nothing here is original to me, by the way.  Most of it comes, as I recently found out, from an obscure Austrian thinker named Ludwig Gumplowicz.  Not much of his stuff is available in English, but A. James Gregor lays it all out in detail in The Ideology of Fascism.  It’s also pretty much standard-issue Social Darwinism (which, like every other good idea from the 19th century, pretty much means the opposite of what “everybody knows” it means.  Thanks, American educational system!).

**You can call an organizing myth an “ideology” if that makes you feel better, but it’s still a myth.

*** Social contract theory comes from the English Civil War.  Hobbes and Locke needed to explain the disorder.  Hobbes, who lived through the Civil War, wanted to craft a political system which would prevent another round of horror.  Locke, who kinda liked the horrors of the Civil War, wanted to justify what he saw as a precursor to the new dawn of liberty in the Glorious Revolution.

****Which is why it’s so fun hearing Lefties cite the Founding Fathers as an example of “resistance” to “tyranny” these days.  Among professional historians, “everybody knows” that the American Revolution was fundamentally a conservative revolution, wherein the Founders — you know, those white male slave owning patriarchal gun nuts — rebelled to preserve their privileges that were being threatened by George III and his mercantile system.

It’s Inevitable, Part I

I believe some kind of Fascism is inevitable here, in America, in pretty short order.  Simply put, the United States was founded on Enlightenment assumptions, and every single one of those is wrong.  As nations can’t exist without an organizing myth, we’re going to have to find, or create, a new one.  Fascism has an organizing myth, too — all political systems do — but Fascism’s is closer to the truth than the Enlightenment.

Here are the Enlightenment’s basic assumptions, all of which can be shown false with a minimal exposure to real life and few seconds’ reflection:

The Blank Slate.  Originally nothing more than John Locke’s epistemology — which is whacked in itself — the Blank Slate has come to mean that humans are infinitely plastic.  Anyone who has ever had children, or even been around children, or is capable of comparing his behavior to his parents’, knows this is bizarrely wrong.  Most of our behavior is inherited.  Not all of it — you could write entire abnormal psych textbooks on the distortions of the New Soviet Man — but much more than half.  Which in itself is enough to doom the Enlightenment project — if Man is more Nature than Nurture, it doesn’t matter how perfect our social arrangements are.  We’ll still act like monkeys most of the time — that is to say, patriarchally, hierarchically, violently — because we are monkeys.

Reason.  See above.  We’re monkeys.  Man is not the Rational Animal; Man is, at best, the Animal Capable of Intermittent Rationality.  Reason is a great tool for getting us what we want… but what we want is almost never itself rational, or even reasonable.  Marvel at the exquisite reason behind Moneyball, wherein brilliant minds spend millions of dollars figuring out the best way to hit a ball with a stick.  And yet millions of our fellow men don’t have clean drinking water.  Or, if that’s too hippy-dippy for you, consider the course of the French Revolution — the very first thing they did after declaring themselves Reason’s BFFs was to start chopping off the heads of anyone who disagreed with them.

Religion.  Whether Man is innately religious because God created the world, or we just evolved that way, doesn’t matter in the slightest.  The Enlightened used to debate whether a society of atheists could endure… which proves that the Enlightened were every bit as self-aware as their descendants: Our Betters, the Liberals.  The Enlightened considered themselves atheists, of course, since that was Rational, and see above for their pose as Reason’s BFFs.  See also its consequences.  As David Stove put it, the Enlightened were considerably worse than the Inquisition, because the Grand Inquisitor at least thought he was putting you to death for your own good — that is, he was trying to actually benefit an existing individual.  The Enlightened, by contrast, guillotined actually existing people for the theoretical benefit of possible future people.  Enlightenment is a religion, in other words — in fact, the bloodthirstiest religion of them all.  Man can exist without a God, Eric Hoffer said, but never without a Devil.

Equality.  The Blank Slate + Reason + Atheism = Equality.  This is the core Enlightenment belief.  Note, however, that it’s not a logical deduction.  The Blank Slate says that all men start equal; it doesn’t follow that they all end that way.  It’d be easy to come up with a justification for a caste of slaves on Enlightenment grounds — somebody has to toil in the salt mines, and with no religion to back up its “ethics,” we, The Enlightened, are free to make another group take one for the team.  So long as it’s all Rational, with a fully worked out cost-benefit spreadsheet, who could possibly object?

Part II soon.

The Only Four Words You Need

To ace any Humanities class.

Now, I’m not saying you should go to college.  I’m on record, in fact, saying that college is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on the American public.  But if you feel you must go, here’s all you need to ace any class less rigorous than Chemistry:

  • discourse
  • intersectionality
  • reify
  • resistance.

Discourse is the subject of your essay.  Everything is a discourse (usage note: A discourse.  Always a noun, never a verb). You probably think “discourse” means “talking about something,” and that’s kinda right, but you’ve gotta expand your mind, maaaan (professors smoke a lot of pot).  Take “racism.”  While there are lots of actions that most people would consider overt racism, there aren’t nearly enough of them to fill up all the conference papers profs need to get tenure. So they simply make things up, using “discourse” as a get-out-of-evidence-free card.  Throw in a little “discourse,” and you can talk about racist hair.  Yes, racist hair.  Hair styles, too, are a discourse — they help reify (see below) what it means to be Black.  Thus a white guy who wears dreadlocks is appropriating (another useful buzzword) the tropes (ditto) of “blackness.”  This is actually the preferred technique: Nobody in their right mind would type a sentence like “the discourse of race extends even, or perhaps most crucially, into the realm of hairstyles.”  But that’s the kind of counter-intuitive nonsense that flutters professorial hearts.  E.g:

Do you not understand that locs are an intensely political statement and that black people – especially black women – are constantly policed about their hair?

Tone it down a bit — “discourse,” after all, has a connotation of sweet reasonableness — but learn to talk like this.  You’ll definitely want to throw around phrases like “political statement” and “policed,” the more the better.

An intense political statement, perhaps inadequately policed.

An intense political statement, perhaps inadequately policed.

Intersectionality.  Andrew Sullivan, of all people, has a pretty good short definition of this:

neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity — such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. — but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power.

You don’t really need a definition, though.  You know how it’s always some white girl doing Wymyn’s Studies at a place like Oberlin, who claims to be the Most Oppressed Person Ever?  You ask her how that can possibly be, given that, you know, her Daddy can afford to send her to Oberlin to study something catastrophically useless for five years at $60 large per?  And she’ll reply — if she deigns to reply — something along the lines of “because mumble mumble reasons?”  That’s intersectionality.  Ditto with American Blacks, who have the MOPE act down to an art form, despite living lives on the public dime that are the envy of at least 75% of the human population.  Whitey, of course, is keeping them down, because mumble mumble reasons.  Replace “mumble mumble reasons” with “intersectionality” and it’s all good in the ivory tower.  It’s how you claim victimhood while living the kind of life an Ottoman satrap would find decadent.

Reify means “to make real” or “to make into an object.” Thing-ification, if you will.  It’s an old school Marxist term d’art (literary French for “bullshit”) that has been repurposed for the Pop Culture Studies crowd.  Like its sometime synonym “instantiazation,” reify pulls concepts down from the realm of abstract theory and makes them into “artifacts” (another useful buzzword).  An example: “Eminem’s depiction of an abusive relationship in his latest video reifies patriarchal gender roles among lower-class whites.”  Translated into English, this means: “watch Eminem’s latest video, turn into a wife beater.”  The variant you’re most likely to encounter these days is the dreaded “male gaze,” which literally — literally!! — objectifies women.

Resistance.  Different from #TheResistance, which apparently makes Donald Trump feel bad by tweeting mean things about him to your six followers, resistance, in academic parlance, is what good people do when a discourse reifies something that makes them experience feelbad… which, of course, everything does, because intersectionality.  Literally — literally!! — anything a MOPE does is resistance if you can get a conference paper out of it.  I’m not kidding — the field of Subaltern Studies, for example, is chock-a-block with dense polysyllabic jargon excusing the kind of conduct among brown people that would get, say, a Vichy police chief strung up from the nearest lamppost.  If you simply existed under the heel of the colonizer, and you left enough evidence for a prof to pad it out to 20 pages, congratulations, you’re resisting.

Now all you have to do is put these four terms together, which is a snap.  Find something that nobody could possibly consider objectionable — model railroading, say — and declare it a Major Social Justice Issue.  Like so:

An overwhelmingly white hobby, model railroading reifies the cis/het/pat assumption that only white male engineers are capable of sustaining a complex iterative system in a bounded context.  The most problematic discourse of model railroading — the so called “Lionel vs. American Flyer” debate — puts minorities at risk by refusing to recognize the complex intersectionality of excluded peoples.  Resistance is overdue.

Final exam: What does that actually mean?*

 

*It’s a trick question, obviously.  It doesn’t mean anything, and was never intended to.  You just have to slip in the correct buzzwords in a superficially plausible way.  The Postmodern Essay Generator will get you 90% there; all you need to do is copy/paste its gibberish into a Word file, then find-and-replace with the four buzzwords described here, plus a few details from your lecture notes.  The best part is, you can recycle this exact same paper for all four years, changing only the superficial details and the section number.

That’ll be $45,000, please.