Question-Flipping

One of academia’s handiest bullshit-masking tricks is question-flipping.

One of Rotten Chestnuts’ four regular readers (I think it’s Nate Winchester; please correct me if not) likes to quote Jonah Goldberg’s pithy insight that it’s not poverty that demands explanation, but wealth.  I’d like you to imagine yourself captured by an evil genie, who tells you he’s going to insert your brain into either A) a modern trailer-dweller, or B) any famous historical figure from the 19th century or earlier. Pick whomever you like — Queen Victoria, Julius Caesar, Ramses II, Genghis Khan, Cesare Borgia, Shakespeare… anyone, so long as his life ended in 1900 or before, or choose Tornado Acres Trailer Park.*

If you know anything about history, you take the trailer.  If for no other reason than trailers have aspirin, antibiotics, and air conditioning.  Those three things alone make modern life unimaginably more comfortable than even royalty experienced back in the days.  If you don’t believe me, try it — wait until a nice sultry summer’s day, then turn off the a/c and lock your medicine cabinet.  I bet you don’t make it past lunchtime.

This is a simple, obvious, irrefutable point, but as Goldberg keeps pointing out, almost nobody ever makes it, or thinks through the implications.  Politics in 21st century America assumes a baseline of material prosperity that goes well beyond the wildest dreams of science fiction from even the Fifties and Sixties.  Where on earth do we get this idea?

Part of it is simply that familiarity breeds contempt, of course, but some of it is much more insidious.  You’ve probably heard of “postcolonialism,” for instance, and even if you haven’t heard the term, you know the arguments — the Third World is so screwed up because the white man wrecked the place; anything that’s wrong with, say, Mexico is due to the “legacy of colonialism.”  It’s one of the pillars of Obama’s worldview, for instance.

Question-flipping, Goldberg-style, is the only way they can get away with this.  The obvious question should be, “well, if Whitey screwed it all up, why was life so much better when he was in charge?”  Tanzania, for instance, had a pretty good standard of living back when the Germans ran the place.  The average Indian peasant was obviously better off in the Raj’s glory days than in all but the last few years of independence.  The difference between Ian Smith’s Rhodesia and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is too gruesome to mention.  Ditto South Africa pre- and post-apartheid.  How many Average Joes, do you think, would happily invite Whitey back if they knew this?

The point of this exercise isn’t to show that wogs are incapable of self-governance, or some other Victorian-era bullshit.  I simply want you to see the disconnect between what reasonably informed, but non-indoctrinated, people would conclude from this set of facts, versus what the ivory tower concludes.  Because it’s obvious that Whitey wasn’t running everything out there in the colonies.  One of the most cited figures in Postcolonial Studies — and you’ll never find a more wretched hive of fact-avoidance than “___ Studies” — is that Britain ran the Raj with something like 100,000 full-time white folks…. at most.  Clearly there were a LOT of talented, dedicated, hardworking Indians making the Raj go.  Why, then, did it all go to shit in 1947?  Ditto just about any colonial possession of just about any European power — grotesqueries like Belgian Congo aside, most everywhere was run mostly by natives, most all of the time.  Where did they go?

That’s the question you’ll never see asked, because the answer is “they swallowed Leftist ideology, which is as utterly destructive of personal integrity and work ethic as it is of infrastructures and economies.”  Pick any country you like.  Tanzania elected Julius Nyerere, who is still the collectivist wet dream in many parts of academia.  He managed to ruin the economy and start a famine within a few years.  And Nyerere was just dumb and ideology-blinded; he wasn’t batshit insane like Idi Amin or Mobutu Sese Seko or Francisco Macias Nguema.

But question-flip it, and you can have a long and lucrative career flogging Whitey with 50 cent words.

 

*yeah, I know, Queen Victoria died in 1901.  Forget it, Hoover, he’s rolling.

 

All You Really Need to Know…

…about modern “males” (the word “man” shall never apply to creatures like this).  From the last remaining readable part of Ace of Spades’ blog, the overnight open thread:

The Turner prize-winning artist has turned his sights on the survivalist [Bear Grylls] and his exceptionally rugged version of masculinity, arguing that it isn’t fit for the 21st century. “He celebrates a masculinity that is useless,” [Grayson ] Perry said. Perry said that the masculine ideal presented by shows such as The Island, in which Grylls is currently putting a third group of hapless contestants through survivalist hell, is making it harder for men to successfully negotiate modern life. “Men might be good at taking the risk of stabbing someone or driving a car very fast, but when it comes to opening up, men are useless,” Perry told the Radio Times in an interview to promote his new series, All Man.

The poster notes that

Grayson Perry’s interests include pottery, writing, opening up emotionally along with the occasional transvestism.

perrygryllsmugshot1

And there you have it.  The guy on the left won the Turner Prize, which has been awarded to such towering cultural figures as Martin Creed, whose prizewinning “art” was a room where the lights go on and off at random, and, well, Grayson Perry.  I’ll  let the BBC handle this one:

Pottery artist Grayson Perry, who creates vases depicting subjects like death and child abuse, has won this year’s Turner Prize.

Perry accepted the award in a dress, as his female alter-ego Claire, thanked his wife and said he was “stunned”.

A popular choice among the public, he beat off competition from the favourites, the Chapman brothers.

[And good on the Beeb for using the phrase “beat off” in any context featuring modern art].

Bear Grylls, meanwhile, was in the SAS, an outfit that even other special forces consider pretty badass (and only left because he broke his back in a parachute accident).  Just for giggles, here’s what you have to do to be selected for the SAS.  I particularly like this bit:

The endurance phase culminates with ‘the long drag’, a 40 mile trek carrying a 55lb bergen, that must be completed in under 24 hours.

And that’s just phase one, followed by “jungle training” and “escape and evasion.”  All of which gets you provisionally admitted; lots of folks still fail out after that.  Now, I’m no Turner Prize winner, but the mere thought of any of that stuff exhausts me.  And that’s all before you get into all the “infiltrating enemy territory” and “killing elite enemy soldiers” stuff that commandos do.

Now I’m not saying that a “real man” has to be Bear Grylls (compared to the SAS, 99% of the world’s males are total pussies).  But the bar is certainly higher that “dressing up like a woman to receive awards for one’s pottery.”

“H8” and the Importance of Tautologies

Over at Morgan’s, I opined that “H8” may be the root of most, if not all, of modern society’s ills.  “H8,” of course, is that peculiarly Progressive perversion of Jesus’s command to hate the sin, but love the sinner.  According to Progressives, if you don’t love the sin, you must “hate” the sinner — if I don’t “celebrate” little Tommy’s decision to live as Ms. Phyllis Levine, showgirl extraordinaire, I’m itching to tie him to my pickup hitch and take him for a long ride down a gravel road.

Which is baloney.  I’m almost completely indifferent to Tommy.  “Mild pity” is the strongest emotion I can muster for him.  My “hate” — and it’s nearly strong enough for that word — is reserved for the notion of forcing us, with fines and jail time, to participate in Tommy’s delusion.

They are not the same.  They are, in fact, light years apart.  The only way to conflate the two is to completely lose one’s grip on tautologies.

It’s easy to do, alas.  In fact, almost any “skeptical” worldview you can name, from Diogenes the Cynic on down, rests on this kind of error.  They’ll say that we can’t know the “real” world, or “things as they are in themselves,” because our perceptions are mediated by our sense-organs and our understanding can only function in language-dependent concepts….

…which is just a fancy way of saying “we can only know what we can know.”(1)  Of course we can only see with our eyes and think with our brains.  And it’s certainly true that if our mechanism of perception were different — if we had bat sonar, say — things would appear quite different (2).  But this too is tautologous: If things were different, they wouldn’t be the same.  But that’s boring.  Isn’t it so much more fun — not to mention remunerative — to pretend that our “inability” to know “things in themselves” leads to all sorts of radical political consequences?

This “transgender” nonsense is just feminist tautology-dodging.  They will tell you that biology is meaningless when it comes to behavior.  Your private parts are the result of chromosomes, yes — not even feminists have gotten around to denying that yet — but “male” and “female,” they claim, are just “social constructions.”  Since the suite of behaviors we call “male” and “female” are largely (=entirely) culture-bound, anyone who “identifies” as a girl really is a girl, no matter what he’s packing in his pants.  And if you try to dispute that, well, we’ve seen how easy it is to get led off into the socio-philosophical weeds (very few scientists would claim that all behavior is entirely genetic…).

But “social constructions” are tautologies too.  Social things are social.  Customs are customary.

To get to “transgenderism,” you need to argue that DEscription is the same as PREscription — that by noting something is such-and-such a way, you’re asserting that it should be that way.  Which is false.  And, indeed, it’s only Progressives who argue that the way things are in The Current Year is the only way things should ever be.  For the rest of us, it’s uncontroversial, boring in fact, to note that gender roles change with circumstances.  On the football field, this is acceptable, indeed manly, behavior:

1253293349In line at the DMV, not so much.

Getting back to Tommy:  Tommy is a boy.  Tommy is not a girl.  Tommy dresses like a girl, and often behaves like a girl (3), to the point where it’s a not-unreasonable hypothesis that Tommy thinks he IS a girl.  But he’s not.  He’s a boy.  Same deal as the guy in the nuthouse who thinks he’s Napoleon (4).

Now, one can argue — and, in fact, I would argue — that Tommy deserves understanding and compassion.  I don’t hold it against him, and I wouldn’t force him into psychiatric treatment or anything like that, even if I could.  I certainly don’t “hate” Tommy.  But it is a tautology — it is true by definition — that Tommy is a boy, not a girl.

Forcing us to publicly pretend to believe otherwise is propaganda, and like all propaganda it’s designed to belittle and humiliate.  That’s where the hate — real, honest-to-God hate — comes from.  And if certain overly-excitable folks can’t distinguish between the propaganda and its subject, well, are they not following the Progressives’ lead?  They, not we, insist that tautologies aren’t tautological.  They, not we, insist that Tommy IS a girl.  Any actual hate directed at Tommy is unfair, and a tragedy….

…. and it’s entirely Progressives’ fault.

 

 

(1) I can’t recommend David Stove’s essay “Idealism: A Victorian Horror Story” enough.  He clobbers these arguments, then salts the earth behind him.  The full thing (parts I and II) are in The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies; if that’s hard to get, or you want more Stove (and you really can’t get enough), one of the parts is in Against the Idols of the Age, ed. Roger Kimball.  Read them!!!

(2) That’s the thought experiment behind a famous essay by philosopher Thomas Nagel: “What is It Like to Be a Bat?”  Here’s a summary; the essay itself can be found online in .pdf form and is well worth reading.

(3) Though not nearly as often as you’d think.  When you read up on them, a surprisingly large number of “trans” folks are attracted to the same gender they believe themselves to be.  The “queer trans_____” actually seems to be the norm, in my experience, and you haven’t truly lived until you’ve heard a very obvious dude — I’m talking 6’3″, built like a linebacker, adam’s apple the size of a softball, with five o’clock shadow you could putt on — angrily going off about how he’s really a lesbian.  And no, he absolutely was NOT kidding.  I felt like I was on mescaline.

(4) The most fascinatingly quixotic book I’ve ever read, Julian Jaynes’s The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, uses these types of delusions as evidence.  A psychiatrist, Jaynes claims that folks who think they’re Napoleon exhibit the same inability to individuate that pre-conscious peoples do.  If you put two guys who think they’re Napoleon in a room together, the result is…. complete agreement.  They both agree that the other guy is also Napoleon. They somehow don’t process the idea that two people can’t be the same guy at the same time.  It would be fascinating to learn if “transsexuals” really believe that other transsexuals are the gender they claim.  Alas, that would imply (as I have implied throughout) that “transgenderism” is a mental illness, and that simply won’t do.

Stupid Postmodernist Tricks, Revisited

Via the emails, I realize I should clarify the point of my post on stupid postmodernist tricks.  I linked to the guy’s paper because I like his catchy names for their rhetorical tricks, and his plain-text examples.  I don’t completely follow all his PhD truth-table stuff, either.

But that’s the point: There’s no need to.  Now, before you get on my case about anti-intellectualism or whatever, let me cite Aristotle:

It is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.

Which is, in fact, exactly the main Stupid Postmodernist Trick I wanted to point out.

An example will help.  We all know that Our Betters, the Liberals, act as if mere words have the power to change reality.  Now, if you ask them point blank “do you believe that changing something’s name changes its essence?” they’ll reply “of course not!  Don’t be silly!”  But if you get them talking about, say, “frames,” they’re right back to acting as if changing the words actually changes reality.  What gives?

It all comes down to a devilish little two-word phrase: “Social construction.”

If you’ve been near a college in the last two decades or so, you’ve undoubtedly heard it.  It sounds innocuous enough.  More importantly, it sounds true.  These days we wear pants, not togas, but there’s no real reason for that.  Sure, back in the days trousers made riding horses easier (and Romans switched out of their togas when serving in the cavalry), but who rides horses these days?  The only reason we prefer pants to togas, then, is convention.  Pants-wearing is a social construction.

And when you come right down to it, most human behavior is that way.  Take language.  We call that cute furry little mammal a “rabbit,” but in French he’s un lapin.  In German he’s ein Hase (hence Yosemite Sam’s perpetually unsatisfied craving for Hasenpfeffer), and in Swahili he’s sungura.  Which word you use depends entirely on which community of language-users you’re communicating with.  “Rabbit” or “sungura,” it’s just a social construction; he’s the same fluffy little guy regardless.  Which was one of the key insights of Ferdinand de Saussure‘s “structuralist linguistics” — languages work by their own internal logic, not by any metaphysical correspondence between word and thing somewhere out there in the ether.  When you say “rabbit,” you’re not talking about any particular rabbit, much less a general concept of Rabbit-ness.  You’re just using a group of sounds inside an internally consistent, but essentially arbitrary, socially-constructed system.

Nietzsche expressed a similar idea somewhere, and if you want to, you can run it all the way back through the medieval debate about “universals” and straight to Plato.  No two rabbits are exactly alike, but we all know that any given rabbit (lapin, Hase, whatever) isn’t, say, a horse, despite all the superficial similarities between the two.  Seriously, try it: give me a definition of “rabbit” that the Average Joe could accept that doesn’t also apply to horses.  “A rabbit is a four-legged furry creature with big ears that is only a few inches tall.”  Ummm, are you sure it’s not a Shetland pony?  And yet the same word covers all rabbits, and excludes all horses.

Obviously we all know the difference between rabbits and horses, which must mean that — despite all the variations between individual rabbits, and all the different words for “rabbit” in all the world’s languages — there’s some “essence of rabbit” out there that we all intuitively understand, which is different from the essence of horse.  A Rabbit, if you will; the Platonic Form of a Rabbit in which all individual rabbits “participate.”  This rabbit doesn’t look very much like that rabbit, but they’re both Rabbits, not horses.  What we say doesn’t matter; it’s what we mean that counts.

With me?

42096-hi-Bugs_BunnyExcept that’s all bullshit.  The astute reader — by which I mean y’all — noticed about three steps ago that I somehow got from “everything is just an arbitrary convention of language” to “there is a real, Platonic Form out there somewhere beyond the moons of Neptune that applies to all rabbits everywhere, no matter what you call any individual member of the species.”

But it sure sounds plausible, don’t it?  Especially if — like most folks these days — you haven’t boned up on Plato in a while, have never heard of de Saussure, and wonder what the hell is the point of all this talk about rabbits anyway.  That’s the Stupid Postmodernist Trick I want to emphasize.  They can beat you down with a whole bunch of 50 cent words, and allusions to concepts you probably only vaguely remember, and names that sure sound authoritative, like Nietzsche and Plato.  And, of course, if you challenge any one of those steps, it’s very easy to lead you off into the weeds of a technical discussion.  Do you doubt that Nietzsche said that?  Well, class, let’s all haul out our copies of Twilight of the Idols (the Kaufmann translation, obviously) and turn to page 57……

This is the essence of the motte-and-bailey doctrine Shackel describes.  It’s a highfalutin’, pseudo-epistemological version of what I call beachhead facts.  Just as the alwarmists will use the fact that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas to argue that you’re a horrible awful no good very bad person for not wanting global socialism, so the PoMo Leftist (BIRM) will use the tautology that social conventions are, in fact, social conventions to argue that gravity doesn’t exist.  And if you focus on any one particular turd as a starting point for your refutation of all this bullshit, they’ll pull a Zachriel and start trying to assign you homework.

Words mean what they mean.  True things are true no matter who says them, or even if no one does.  False things are false, even if everyone is forced to say they’re true.  That’s all you need to know to refute Postmodernism.  The rest is just hot air.

My Bubble is Thin

According to Charles Murray’s quiz, I live in a thin bubble indeed.  I got a 35 out of 100, which means:

11–80: A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents. Typical: 33.

0–43: A second-generation (or more) upper-middle-class person who has made a point of getting out a lot. Typical: 9.

It’s worse than that, though.  If I hadn’t lived in a very blue-collar, heavily immigrant neighborhood just out of college, I would’ve scored a lot lower.  Plus, I just don’t watch tv; seemingly half the questions are about tv.

Guess I’m a cuckservative after all.  How about you?

Political Philosophy in 5 Minutes

Y’all know I love Thomas Hobbes, though more for his method than his conclusions — like Confucius, he thought that all misunderstandings boiled down to bad definitions.  He wanted all arguments to proceed like geometry proofs.  Whether that’s workable or not is above my pay grade (and note that Hobbes wasn’t a very good mathematician), but there’s no question that bad definitions are at the heart of most, if not all, political misunderstandings these days.  To wit:

Machiavelli said that nobles long to oppress the people, while the people only want to avoid being oppressed.  Which is true of any hominid hierarchy.  If you really believe in evolution, you know that humans are advanced software running on kludgy monkey hardware.  What’s true for the baboon troop is true for us, and that’s what we see in human societies — alphas at the top, with his lieutenants, ruling over the great mass of ordinary monkeys, with a few despised omegas lingering at the group’s edges.

Society, then, is a conglomeration of baboon troops, and government is the conglomerate’s internal organization.  The classical social contract theorists had it wrong.  It’s not individuals, each as sovereign as his physical power can make him, doing the contracting.  Rather, the “contract” preexists, in the form of monkey troops – we’re born into a troop, and like all monkeys we’re able to break off and form our own troops if we’re strong enough, but there’s no such thing as a pure individual in the State of Nature (which also doesn’t exist in the way Hobbes et al implied).  Society, then, is a fractal pyramid, and government likewise: all the little monkey troops banded together into one big troop.

BBookSTriangleMonkey troops have one purpose, and one purpose only: the flourishing of the troop.  And that’s where the problems start — as humans are mega-monkeys, we’re able to assign all kinds of different meanings and shades of nuance to “flourishing.”  How far does that extend?  Who gets to decide if the troop is flourishing or not, and what happens when the majority decides the troop isn’t flourishing?

That was Machiavelli’s simple, irrefutable point — the nobility must assure the peasantry that their interests move in tandem.  Nobles want to fight wars and sponsor art and live high on the hog because they’re alpha chimps, and that’s what alpha chimps do.  But nobles can’t do all that stuff without the active participation of the peasants, as they’re the ones who staff the armies, make the art, grow the food, etc.

In return, though, the nobles have to provide some basic returns — a share of the spoils of war if you’re on offense, and physical protection if you’re on defense.  That’s the real social contract, and if it’s broken, the macro-troop that is Government collapses back into micro-troops at the local level.  As humans, we have some limited degree of choice in what micro-troop we want to join when the macro-troop breaks down– this is the “State of Nature” — but joining one isn’t optional.

So here’s the homework that every aspiring noble used to do as a matter of course:

  1. define “flourish;”
  2. define “protection;” and
  3. define how you’ll provide for both.

Pretty simple, no? Problem is, none of our supposed “leaders” have any inkling that they’re supposed to be doing this.  Cf. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush — get them drunk (from what I’ve heard, that shouldn’t be tough) and make them answer a simple question: “Why do you want to be President?”  And we all know the answer: “Because it’s my turn!!!!”

Which means that this particular iteration of the macro-troop is kaput.  Most of us who reside here in the USA in this, the Current Year, have a decent instinctive idea of what “flourish” and “protection” mean, and though we may not be able to articulate it like 17th century Oxford dons, we know that our so-called “leaders” aren’t providing either.  Back when, this used to be called a “crisis of legitimacy,” and pretty much everyone — yep, Hobbes included — thought that an illegitimate government is no government at all, and nobody is obliged to obey its decrees.

And it’s illegitimate all the way down the line.  The closer you get to an answer to the Three Questions, from an ideologue of any side, the more you realize that they not only haven’t thought this stuff through, they have no idea they were even supposed to. Government is just kind of a thing that sorta happens, dude…. but it’s super-important that it happens my way, or else ur a h8r.

Which is, as the kids these days say, problematic.  I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what happens to an alpha chimp when he can’t protect the troop.  It’s the same thing that happens to failed leaders in all times and places: lamppost, rope, some assembly required.

It doesn’t have to end that way, but it’s increasingly likely that it’s going to…. because it’s our turn, I guess.

 

Degenerate Art

In 1937, the Nazi Party put on an exhibition of “degenerate” art.  The standard take on this is what you’d expect: by comparing their favored style (socialist realism kitsch, basically) to the hottest stuff of the avant garde, the Nazis ended up showing the public the cultural poverty of their movement.

Maybe.  I’m not a historian of the 3rd Reich, and you could write everything I know about art on a napkin.  But I do know how to use a google machine, so let’s have a look, shall we?

This is “degenerate” art:

Jan Metzinger, En Canot (Im Boot), 1913

Jan Metzinger, En Canot (Im Boot), 1913

and this is the work of Adolf Ziegler, the organizer of the show, one of Hitler’s faves and an artist colloquially known as the “Reich Master of the Pubic Hair:”

dfe5000d04a84feea90e8daa9007f5aaThat’s The Four Elements, which hung over Hitler’s fireplace (1). Not terrible, but very blah; it looks like a postcard knockoff of a lesser Renaissance painter.  So in the context of the times, the standard take looks like the right one — after 400 years of classical nudes, a genuinely new movement like Cubism seemed to open up all sorts of new artistic possibilities.

But fast forward 80 years.  These days, the “degenerate” stuff simply IS art.  I couldn’t buy a classical nude, even a knockoff of a Ziegler knockoff, at any price.  Ditto “literature” — it’s all MFA wank, with the Michael Chabons and Jonathan Franzens and whomevers in Manhattan awarding all the prizes to folks in another part of Manhattan while their second-person, present-tense quirkfests sit unread on coffee tables (2).  Ditto music.

Hold on a sec.  I’m not just griping about those darn kids today.  The point is that any successful mass political movement is also a cultural movement.  Pick any cultural form you like, and trace it back — you’ll find huge fault lines, giant chasms where the stuff just a decade before looks nothing like what came after, corresponding to extreme political change.  Here, for example, is rococo art, the popular style in France just before the Revolution:

Jean-Honore Fragonard, "The Swing" (1767)

Jean-Honore Fragonard, “The Swing” (1767)

and here’s post-Revolutionary neoclassicism:

Jacques-Louis David, "The Intervention of the Sabine Women," 1796-9

Jacques-Louis David, “The Intervention of the Sabine Women,” 1796-9

We have nothing like high art today, of course, but we do have things like video games and science fiction novels.  And movies.  A decade after its release, The Passion of the Christ looks even weirder.  A hyper-violent Bible epic written entirely in dead languages… that made $611.9 million dollars at the box office.

The point is this: You know a political movement has legs when it gets cultural support.  What was once “degenerate” is now mainstream, and has been for nearly a century.  Art that argues for a “return to tradition” doesn’t look traditional; it looks new and radical, in the same way David’s neoclassicism looked groundbreaking and radical compared to the saccharine of rococo and the hyperactivity of baroque.  A good old fashioned space opera looks shockingly new compared to all the social justice propaganda, just as an old school hack-n-slasher like Baldur’s Gate looks great next to the “updated” version where, instead of bashing orcs, you have to listen to trannies talk about their pwecious widdle feewings.

The blowback is building.  The first politician who really figures out how to harness it is gonna go very, very far…..

 

 

(1) Speaking of degeneration, what diplomat today could match the wit of the French ambassador, who said this piece should be called The Four Senses, because “taste is missing.”

(2) Seriously, click on that link.  Have you ever heard of any of those people?  And check the blurbs — I’d need a gun to my head to read that shit, and even then I’d need to think it over for a few of them.  Ex: “The Tiger’s Wife is a saga set in a fictional war-torn Balkan country where a young doctor must unravel the circumstances of her grandfather’s death through his stories of encounters with “the deathless man” and the legend of the tiger’s wife.”  Holy tap-dancing Buddha.

Capitalism Always Finds a Way

Sexbots!!

Vox Day’s pickup site “Alpha Game” argues that

VR Porn combined with some sort of doll is just around the corner

and asserts that this will be the end of the loser male — with no real options in sight, these guys will tune in, turn on, and drop out of the gene pool, into the virtual arms of their sexbots.

Which, if you think about it, pretty much means the end of Sudden Jihad Syndrome.  We all know that lack of poosy access is a major contributing factor in swarthy young guys going explodey.  Who needs a virulent, violent, love-hate relationship with filthy-yet-unattainable Western whores when you can have one every night, who does whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want?

If I’m DARPA, I’m ordering up a zillion of these, miniaturizing it, and carpet bombing it from Cairo to Karachi.  Say hello to peace in our time.

Category Errors – UPDATED

Trump said some stuff about abortion, and the whole world went nuts.  Almost all of the nuts-going involves category errors.

Here, for instance, is a very interesting piece on the pro-life movement as just another facet of feminist identity politics.  He’s spot on about the weird “victim” language the pro-lifers use:

If you look deeper, you see this phony victimhood feminism all over the Pro-Life Movement. They coined the term “abortionist” to demonize the performer of the abortion, but they didn’t coin a term for the pregnant woman who brings the true victim before the abortionist. They also throw around the term “baby-killer” for the doctor, yet they don’t refer to the pregnant woman as a “baby-killer supplier” or a “fetus pimp”. And they refer to the whole class of abortionists, their places of work, and their PR / lobbying groups, as “the abortion industry” — but not to the whole class of pregnant women who seek out their services as the “mommy before fetus brats,” etc.

I disagree that this is feminist identity politics, but the language IS weird, and most of us — myself certainly included — are so inundated with it that we don’t notice how strange it is.

The real problem is Postmodernism.  Let’s all say it together: “You can’t legislate morality!!”

Which is baloney, and always has been.  Reduce every law code ever written to its fundamentals, and you’ll find a version of the Ten Commandments — don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, etc.  Conversely, you can boil down every known moral code to a few hard-and-fast, black-letter laws — you hardly need a PhD in philosophy, for instance, to see that Kant’s famous Categorical Imperative (“treat others as ends, never means”) entails don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t murder, &c &c.

But since we’ve all swallowed the idea that “you can’t legislate morality!” — itself a moral dictum, if you think about it — we’re forced to tweak our laws to encourage behavior without specifying what the desired behavior is.

In Ye Good Olde Days, when adults were in charge in the West, we generally avoided making black-letter laws — not because we lacked for talented jurists, or didn’t have a class of parasitic busybodies just dying to run other people’s lives for them, but because as adults, we understood that most people are lazy, and the ones that aren’t are jailhouse lawyers.  Lazy people don’t like to think, so if you forbid A and only A, then lazy folks won’t do A…. but they’ll assume that B-Z, which are also pretty bad, are ok, since legal.  The jailhouse lawyers, meanwhile, will immediately set to work nibbling around the edges, such that The Law Against A soon must spell out every jot and tittle (see subsection A.2.a.35(c3(lvii)).

Instead, adults focused on propping up culture.  A healthy, vigorous culture knows that while murder is almost always totally wrong, manslaughter, negligent homicide, dueling, honor killing, revenge, &c are also pretty bad, and generally to be avoided…. within certain well-understood, but unwritten, limits.

Adults in a healthy culture are ok with the ideas of legal-yet-forbidden and illegal-but-tolerated.  Victorian Britain’s Contagious Diseases Act, for instance, has been a feminist boogeyman from before the ink was dry, but it was a fairly successful attempt to solve a real problem without infringing on culture.  One shouldn’t visit prostitutes, old chap… but if one does, one should be careful about it.  Similarly, ladies, one shouldn’t exchange sexual favors for money… but if one does, one should be careful about it.

Wiki’s summary illustrates the modern phenomenon I’m talking about:

These measures were justified by medical and military officials as the most effective method to shield men from venereal disease. As military men were often unmarried and homosexuality was criminal, prostitution was considered a necessary evil. However, no provision was made for the examination of prostitutes’ clientele, which became one of the many points of contention in a campaign to repeal the Acts.

The Act itself didn’t provide for the examination of prostitutes’ clientele… but then, one wonders, how did the Act’s authors know it was a problem in the first place?

They didn’t need black-letter law for this, because prostitutes’ clients — unmarried (and, often, married) soldiers and sailors were vigorously inspected in the service, and vigorously punished:

soldiers who were hospitalised with VD found themselves penalised by an antiquated system of ‘hospital stoppages’. In the days before a National Health Service, any man admitted to hospital for reasons not connected with his military service was liable to have money stopped from his pay to help cover the cost of his treatment. Although ‘hospital stoppages’ were finally abolished in October 1917, a levy was retained in cases where a man was deemed to have been admitted ‘through his own fault’, VD patients and alcoholics being the principle targets (Hogge & Garside 1918: 325). ‘Hospital stoppages’ became, in effect, a fine.

British army pay being what it was, a few weeks’ pay stoppage was a significant punishment.  Wiki’s proclamation on homosexuality is also cute — yep, it was “illegal” all right… but every British legislator who had been to a public school, which is to say pretty much every British legislator, had some experience in this area.  It was illegal, but tolerated, just as going to prostitutes was legal, but forbidden.

So: how would a healthy culture handle abortion?  Liberals don’t know the history of their own movement — ignorance of history is the flux capacitor which makes faith in socialism possible — but both contraceptives and abortion were pretty widely available in the Victorian era….

…for rich people.  That was what got the goat of ladies like Marie Stopes and Margaret Sanger (well, that and inferior races being allowed to breed): Effective contraception and safe abortion were too expensive for working class girls.  There wasn’t a comparable “gay rights” movement, but it was the same situation — Oscar Wilde wasn’t doing anything a fair share of the upper crust wasn’t doing; he just flaunted it a bit too much.

Alas, we live in The Age of Asperger’s.  We’re all Postmodernists now, and since we know for a fact that there is no such thing as a fact, all laws are just expressions of the dominant coalition’s will to power.  Only that which is specifically forbidden by black letter law is “wrong,” and it’s only “wrong” until the black-letter law is changed.  We can’t articulate a principle, since there are no principles, and we can’t shape the the culture to buttress values, since there are no values (and “culture” is just the whim of a temporary majority).  So we punish abortion providers, not suppliers, in the same way we bust pot suppliers, not users.  If it’s not specifically forbidden, in language too unambiguous for even the cleverest editor of the Harvard Law Review, it’s ok.

UPDATE 4/4/2016: Stacy McCain informs us that “Adultism” is the new thoughtcrime.