Equations vs. Upvotes

Those of us who went to primary school back in the Jurassic were taught to think, for lack of a better term, in equations.  In History class, for example, you spent the junior high years memorizing a bunch of crap that happened, so that in the high school years, you could begin figuring out why the crap happened.  You take the facts, infer a rule, and test it, like a scientist.

For example, you can get a decent handle on 18th century European history with a phrase: The mercantile system.  Mercantilism funds the large standing armies and navies that newly consolidated nation-states need.  Militaries are meant to be used, though, and are savagely expensive either way, so states begin fighting each other, not over dynastic politics (though the wars are often confusingly called “War of the ___ Succession” or “King So-and-So’s War”), but over access to markets (which leads to further state consolidation).  Colonies are essential to markets, and colonial expansion opens up whole new venues for fighting — North America, India, the Caribbean.  This in turn leads to internal political conflict, e.g. the American Revolution… you get the idea.  It’s not perfect, but you won’t go too far wrong by trying to figure out where X event fits into the framework of the mercantile system.

This way of thinking has its disadvantages, to be sure — Marxism appeals to limited thinkers who long to appear deep, because it’s an easy way to see “what really happened.”  All you have to do to get an A+ from your idiot socialist teachers is to find the exploitation in a given situation… and if you can’t find any, or if people in the situation appear to be getting freer, healthier, richer, and happier, you say “false consciousness.”  Still, following the money, Marxist-style, gets you in the neighborhood of right often enough that pretty much all modern history is “Marxist” history in that sense.  It’s an easy, workable equation.

The Millennials, though, aren’t taught that way.  I’m not sure how they are taught, as by the time I get them, they’re already so far gone that I spend far more of my time correcting old misinformation than I do presenting new information.  My guess, though, is that they’re taught via PowerPoint and think in Facebook thumbs up.

They absolutely cannot correlate the contents of their minds.  Lovecraft called that a blessing, but in a Cthulhu-less world it’s actually quite the curse.  Now, putting two and two together is something we all struggle with from time to time, but they’re uniquely terrible at it.  It’s not political, necessarily, though almost all college kids necessarily spout SJW platitudes.  They just have never been taught that it’s good, desirable, and frequently necessary to connect the disparate facts in one’s head.

Example: I have never, in all my years of teaching, gotten anyone to venture that “Inclusion” is anything but a universal good.  Ditto “Racism” as a universal evil.  And Eugenics is also a universal evil, because Racism.  And, of course, everyone says they’re ProChoice.  But when I point out that the “birth control” movement was always, and primarily, a Eugenics movement…. their brains shut down.  Their eyes glaze over, their jaws drop, they look like someone blew up the mothership.  Vaya con Dios, and will the last one out please flip off the lights?

I think they think in upvotes exclusively.  The first four items on my list are Chestnuts, things “everybody knows.”  You’re not going to get banned from Facebook or kicked off YouTube for saying Eugenics is bad or Inclusion is good.  In fact, you’ll get upvoted and retweeted and have all kinds of praise heaped upon you, because it’s all just virtue signaling.  That “pro choice” leads directly to eugenics — and socialized medicine is guaranteed to make that happen in the long run — just doesn’t compute, because one is upvoted and the other gets you reported to the Thought Police.

One cannot, in other words, correlate the contents of her mind, and remain in good standing on social media.  So they never do.

Today’s SJW is Tomorrow’s Obergruppenfuhrer

Back in the 19th century, Marxism billed itself as science.  That was its appeal — 19th century science, especially physics and Darwinian biology, was destroying the old certainties.  You even had guys like Ernst Mach — a heavyweight scientist, for whom the speed of sound is named — arguing that ideas themselves evolve organically, much like organisms do.  The old world was dead; the old certainties were gone; what could be over the horizon?  Karl Marx pretended to know, with scientific certainty (yes, even back then they “fucking loved science”).

In a world where every day brought news of another of life’s certainties being overthrown by some egghead in a lab, Marxists’ dogmatic certainty kept them grounded.  That’s why so many confused young people were Marxists.  As Orwell observed back in the 1930s,

One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.

Marx said there is nothing but stuff in the world.  Material possessions.  Marx said that the old certainties were all lies, designed to keep The People from demanding more stuff.  Rejigger life’s material arrangements, he said, and we shall have social Utopia, just as the fruit-juice drinkers etc. shall, by rejiggering their biochemical arrangements, have physical utopia.

Then a funny thing happened: World War II.  We won, and all of a sudden an unimaginable level of material prosperity was available to everyone.  Nobody has involuntarily gone to bed hungry in America since about 1957, and it was soon obvious that Orwell’s Socialist dream of the 1930s was the Capitalist reality of the 1960s — those Wigan Pier miners all had clothes, shoes, three hots and a cot, and the National ‘Ealf….

…. and they still weren’t happy, any more than the Baby Boomers were, though warm and safe and full and secure on their local college campus.  But instead of concluding from all this that man does not live on bread (and socialized “healthcare”) alone — because that would entail that their parents had been right all along — they concluded that Racism was the cause of all their badfeelz.  How can you enjoy yourself, even with free love and righteous bud, while poor Negroes aren’t voting in Mississippi?  So they engineered the Great Magic Party Switch of 1964, passed the Civil Rights Act, and a funny thing happened: They still weren’t happy.  Must be Vietnam.  So they ended that….

…..and they still weren’t happy, just as they weren’t happy with second-wave Feminism, New Age spirituality, gay rights, animal rights, fruit-juice drinking, nudism, sandal-wearing…

The problem with all these things is: There’s no certainty.  No end state.  At least in the old, horrible, racist-sexist-homophobic-whatever world of a century ago, you knew what you were, and had your place in the world.  Here’s Orwell again, on the “radicals” of the interwar years:

The first thing that must strike any outside observer is that
Socialism, in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the middle classes. The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years’ time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism; or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting.

We all know who those prim little men with white-collar jobs and cushy social positions are: The professors, the race hustlers and poverty pimps, the flunkies of the Big Government Uniparty, who preach the wonders of Diversity from behind the ramparts of the whitest, tightest gated community they can find.  Focus on the others, the youthful snob-Bolsheviks.  Do they sound familiar?

A Marxist student group at Swarthmore College disbanded itself earlier this year after realizing that its members were too rich and too white to be real commies.
According to screenshots confidentially provided to Campus Reform by an individual with access to the group’s private Facebook page, the demise of the Swarthmore Anti-Capitalist Collective (SACC) came in the wake of a farewell letter from a member who had decided the group could never be an effective proponent of “unproblematized anticapitalist politics” due to its “history of abuse, racism, and even classism.”
“From my understanding SACC disbanded because they realized the makeup and tactics of their group was at odds with their espoused principles,” Swarthmore Conservative Society President Gilbert Guerra told Campus Reform. “Their main support base was middle-upper class white kids who enjoy jogging.” . . .
Arguing that “low-income people of color should never be an afterthought in a group whose politics supposedly focus on their liberation,” the author [of the letter disbanding the group] then went on to accuse SACC of having a “history of abuse, racism, and even classism that was never adequately addressed or recognized despite constantly being brought up as an issue.”

“A history of abuse, racism, and even classism” is just a list of buzzwords.  The badfeelz must be coming from somewhere, because it certainly can’t be us!  We’re the good ones.  We’re against racism, “classism” (whatever that can possibly mean in a country where our poor people drop dead from diabetes and obesity-induced coronaries), general whatever-ism.  Like Marlon Brando said in that old movie: What are you rebelling against?  What have you got?

This is the end-state of Postmodernism, which has been the reigning dogma on campus since the late 80s.  As Stephen R.C. Hicks points out, Postmodernism is the only way to hold on to faith in Socialism in the face of logic, math, history, experience, and common sense.  And that’s fine for professors and Uniparty flunkies — they have a place in the world.  But what about the kids?

They’re told for a fact that there’s no such thing as a fact.  They’re told that everything is relative, that anything and everything is a “social construction.”  In other words, Social Justice seems to provide an explanation for why teenagers feel so alienated from everyone and everything.  There’s Reality — that’s just how life is, circa ages 12-19 — and there’s Social Justice, and since Social Justice allows you to blame someone, anyone, for your problems, it’s no surprise they embrace it.  You’re unattractive to the opposite sex?  Must be patriarchy.  But wait, you’re not so sure you even want to be attractive to the opposite sex?  Oh, you’re asexual.  But wait, you’ve got a good friend who feels the same way.  Maybe you’re homosexual?  Or transsexual?  Whatever it is, Society made you that way.  It can’t be “just the way kids are,” because that’s biology, which is Racist.

The problem is, people crave certainty.  Kids — above all — want to know their place in the world.  All the behaviors we used to call “being a teenager” are about finding that place.  Parents, teachers, scoutmasters, Little League coaches, etc., exist primarily to provide safe venues for “rebellion.”  It’s a process of differential diagnosis — “I’m not this [nerd, skater, jock, etc.], so I must be that [scout, cheerleader, goth, whatever].”  Done right, the teenager learns the hard-but-not-permanently-damaging way that the old certainties exist for a reason, and that Mom and Dad were basically right about most things (adjusted for changing times).

Social Justice short circuits all that.  To be an SJW, you are required to believe, simultaneously, with fanatical zeal, that

  • Everyone is exactly what xzhey claim xzhey are, immutably, forever; and
  • That can change without warning, in an instant, because everything is a “social construction.”

Is it any wonder they’re so screwed up?

Soon enough the snob-Bolsheviks like the ex-members of Swarthmore’s Commie Cosplay Club are going to cotton to the fact that Social Justice is a dead end.  What seemed so certain in high school (or even junior high) is revealed in college to be just one more pose, one more deception, one more mask for the ideopathic “injustice” that must be the cause of all your problems.  There is certainty in the Dark Side….

…which is why the Dark Side will win.  Today’s SJW is tomorrow’s obergruppenfuhrer.

 

Stabbing Paddy O’Grady

Let’s say you are, like most of us, a Recent-American — your great-great-great Grandpa stepped off the boat at Ellis Island a decade or so after the Civil War, with an elementary-school education, a few words of English, and $100 in his pocket.

Let’s further say that by the end of his life your GGGGP, through good old fashioned immigrant pluck and hard work, had parlayed that $100 into a modest farm somewhere out in flyover country.

He never did have that much English, and he never lost his nearly incomprehensible accent.  They were realists back in those days, so he knew those two things meant that, however much he loved his adopted homeland, he’d forever be a stranger here.  So he made sure that his boy, your great-great Grandpa, went to school every day and studied hard, loved baseball and apple pie and was indistinguishable from any other American boy.

And he did.  So G3P, in true American fashion, turned his much better education into a much bigger farm.  His much better education let him see the way things were going, and he knew that his son — your great-Grandpa — would need an education in the latest scientific farming techniques to keep up.  So he saved up and sent G2P to the local cow college, and when he got back from the trenches in France, G2P made the family farm the envy of the county.

Having seen both ends of life, G2P knew that the world was changing faster than he could keep up with, despite his fancy education.  Farming was consolidating; not even his envy-of-the-county farm could stave off the big combines forever.  So he made sure that his son, your Grandpa, not only went to school, but got into a profession.  GP went to law school at State U and made a nice middle class life out of it.

His boy, your father, went to an even better law school, and when it was your turn, you got into Harvard.  And now you’ve got yourself a pretty nice life — you’re not rich, let alone a 1%er, but you’re doing fine, such that your boy can go to any college he wants, do anything he wants… you’ve busted your ass your whole life, using the accumulated wisdom of all your forefathers, to make sure he can.

With me?  Now, let’s say your wife gets into geneaological research, and in the course of poking around in your family’s past, finds out something terrible about your great-great-great-grandfather, he of the little English and the $100.  That hundred bucks?  He stole it.  He knifed a guy named Paddy O’Grady on the boat over and stole his life savings.  What would you do?

For most of us, the answer is: Nothing.  That was 1870, for pete’s sake.  Nobody alive even remembers anyone who could’ve known G4P.  And however dishonestly he came by his $100, the rest of it was all him.  And certainly, whatever else the rest of the family tree accomplished, was theirs alone.  No Western ethical system would disagree with this.  Few Eastern systems would — even if you believe, with Hindus and Buddhists, that we suffer over lifetimes for our sins, at least they’re our sins.  Only Confucians and Communists hold your great-great-great-grandparents’ crimes against you.

That’s just the thing, isn’t it?  The Left finds it politically useful to pretend that certain people can, and should, be held to account for the sins of their forebears.  But only certain people, of course — nobody’s demanding “slavery reparations” from, say, Ghana, even though just about every African sold into bondage in the New World was sold by a fellow African.  And surely if Paddy O’Grady’s great-great-great-grandson showed up at their door, demanding a room in their house and half their bank account for what great-great-great-grandpa did back on the potato boat, they’d throw him out on his ear.

That’s how it is with everything Left.  They can, of course, make a case that “you didn’t build that,” that “America was built on the backs of slaves,” etc.  When you’re talking about large historical trends, it doesn’t make sense to talk about individuals.  But, in the end, we live and die as individuals.  Our world is made up of individuals, and individuals, contributing to something larger than themselves, make up Society (their collective contributions are called History).  Leftism, when you finally get to the bottom of it, is little more than an attempt to enjoy, as individuals, the accumulated social, political, and economic capital of the group without contributing anything to it themselves.  Lenin’s famous questions — “who? whom?” — are the best ever devised for getting to the bottom of things…. but as the man said, SJWs always project.  Ask those questions to the Left and watch what happens.  Paddy O’Grady?  Never heard of him.  Besides, he was a kulak — the bastard deserved it.

Explaining Academia V: Sacred Science

Sacred Science. The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.

We’re getting to the heart of what makes the American college campus such a perfect SJW boot camp.  The previous four items dealt with behavior; this one concerns ideology.  And Leftism, SJWism, Maoism, Leninism, whatever you want to call it (they’re all basically the same thing) is an ideology.  It’s got an underlying philosophy that is consistent with itself.*  It’s even got a kernel of truth to it, as all successful ideologies do.

No, really.  We’ve observed here many times that just about every item on the Left’s agenda has some small basis in fact.  It’s a form of Gem reasoning, combined with a clown nose on/ clown nose off rhetorical strategy, that turns obvious (indeed, often trite) observations about human behavior into SJW dogma.  Like so: We’d all agree, I think, that if you kicked a nice, impeccably PC Millennial American through a stargate and set him up as an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, in no time he’d start strutting around like a god on earth.  Similarly, take a pharaoh, reverse-stargate him onto a modern American college campus, and pretty soon he and his nose ring would be down at the daily protest whining about safe spaces.**

Thus “proving” the Lefty dogma item of your choice: There’s no such thing as race, ____ is a social construction, blah blah blah.

Or not, of course, since everyone recognizes that behavior changes with social circumstances.  Move to Boston, and you’ll watch a lot of Red Sox games.  Move to the UK, and you’ll gain at least some appreciation for cricket.  But watch this: By “valorizing” the game of cricket, by linking it to the “tropes” of Whiteness and power, the Victorian cricket players who ran the Raj in the 19th century made “knowledge of cricket” into one of the behavior norms for aspiring members of the ruling caste — a conscious strategy, in other words, to co-opt the native middle class, who might otherwise realize their own indispensability to the Raj and conspire to overthrow it.  So successful was this tactic that cricket is the national sport of India to this day.

I used cricket because no Americans care about it, so the trick is obvious — of course the babus would learn to appreciate cricket, since that was their social group.  The pitch (or field or whatever you play cricket on) was the only place they could meet as equals and put aside all those race, class, and cultural divisions that separated them.  Playing cricket together was an attempt at social bonding, not some nefarious plot to Anglicize the natives.  But you sure can make it look underhanded, especially if you replace “cricket” with “speaking English,” “Christianity,” etc.  There’s an entire prestigious field of Cultural Studies called Subaltern Studies that is pretty much nothing but this.  Though they don’t know it — since, you know, they don’t read anything but Game of Thrones and Harry Potter — it’s where our SJWs get all that stuff about the raw authenticity of the colored man.

See what I mean?  Take an obvious observation about human behavior, sacralize it by assigning Whitey some nefarious motive, lay it out with 50 cent words that you have to memorize to pass the test, and soon enough you’ve got the One True Ring that explains everything.  And since to understand is to excuse, now you’ve got a license to riot every time your pwecious widdle feewings get bruised….

 

 

*Except in the Great Mystery that all successful religions have.  Christianity’s, of course, is “how can a God also be a man?”  Leftism’s is: “Man’s social being determines his consciousness… yet I, a man, have so far transcended my social being that I can say verily unto you, no man’s consciousness can transcend his social being.”

**Not really relevant, but the combination of pharaohs and SJWs reminds me of a fun old joke from the USSR:  A mummy, obviously a pharaoh, is discovered in the desert, but nobody can figure out who he is.  It becomes a matter of national pride, and all the Western nations have a crack at it, but Americans, British, French, they all fail to identify the mummy.  In desperation they turn to a team of Soviet Egyptologists, who go into the room where the mummy is stored.  Half an hour later they come out and make their pronouncement:  “It’s Ramses XXVI.”  “How did you figure it out?” the entire scientific community asks.  “He confessed of his own accord, the bastard!”

Explaining Academia IV: Confession

Part 3 here.

Probably the most famous commie brainwashing tactic is the struggle session.  Mao’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution raised this to an art form:

Panchen_Lama_during_the_struggle_(thamzing)_session_1964

Lifton’s Totalism and the Psychology of Thought Reform focuses on the subjects of struggle sessions — POWs who have their personalities broken down and rebuilt, like the Manchurian Candidate.  And while that’s certainly effective, it’s inefficient to individually “struggle” each thoughtcriminal.  Thus, the struggle session’s goal isn’t to break down the individual target (although that’s great if it happens); it’s to reinforce orthodoxy in the group doing the struggling.  Our innate need for consistency — or fear of cognitive dissonance, however you want to see it — all but guarantees that if we hurl abuse at someone in the name of a cause, we’ll come to believe in that cause ourselves.

There’s an entire genre of reeducation camp lit that has endless examples.  Note that they’re almost entirely Asian — since the gulag system was an essential part of the Soviet economy, they pretty much dropped the “reform” part of reform-through-labor.  The Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese kept it, though, and refined it on both their own people and captured American personnel.  If you have a strong stomach, check out The Aquariums of Pyongyang, Prisoner of Maoor any one of many American POW memoirs from Vietnam (e.g. Five Years to Freedom).  The common thread is that these men survived being “struggled” with their personalities intact, despite horrific abuse.  Their fellow prisoners, however, often did not.

This is why college kids are always on the lookout for new witches to burn, new offenses to punish.  It’s certainly not to make the campus “safer,” “more inclusive,” or whatever else they say their motives are.  Check this out, for instance.  I can guarantee you that an Evergreen College professor named Weinstein is as liberal as they come, and his college president agrees with the protestors in every particular.  And yet, in true Red Guard style, they threaten the prof’s life and even force the President to put his arms down while speaking to them.  There’s not a dime’s worth of difference, ideologically, between anyone in that room… and yet, physical violence is threatened by screaming-mad Maolings.  They’re not struggling President Bridges, as he already agrees with them.  He can’t “confess” to any counterrevolutionary crimes, because he hasn’t committed any.  The point of his “confession” — and he will confess to something, if only “holding his arms out in a racist manner” — is to reinforce the protestors’ orthodoxy.

It doesn’t take much.  Often a campus-wide email blast, even a tangential one, is enough.  If you haven’t been on campus lately, you probably don’t know that every college in America has at least one, and usually several, LGBTQWhatever clubs, promoting “safe spaces,” “take back the night” marches, and “awareness,” endless “awareness.”  Trust me, y’all — everyone on campus is as “aware” of this madness as it’s possible to be, and actionable “hate” incidents are so rare that the ones that happen are invariably pulled off by grievance groups themselves.  These clubs’ point isn’t to actually do anything, in other words — by simply spreading the word, by emailing the entire .edu address book with yet another “awareness week,” they’re conducting a low-level struggle session.  Police your thoughts, these emails say, or we’ll do it for you.  (If you actually go to one of these events, you’ll see the same six people over and over and over; only their hair colors and piercing configurations change).

Explaining Academia: Mystical Manipulation

Part I here.

Mystical Manipulation. The manipulation of experiences that appears spontaneous but is, in fact, planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority, spiritual advancement, or some exceptional talent or insight that sets the leader and/or group apart from humanity, and that allows reinterpretation of historical events, scripture, and other experiences. Coincidences and happenstance oddities are interpreted as omens or prophecies.

Here’s a fairy tale: 30-ish A.D, Roman authorities in Palestine execute yet another in a long line of rabble-rousing, apocalypse-preaching mystics.  But this time they botch the job somehow, because reports quickly begin to circulate that the guru is still alive.  His followers, though, insist that the mystic actually raised himself from the dead — as he said he would — thus fulfilling all the prophecies about him and proving all his claims.

Most of that actually happened, as proven by sources any reasonable historian would accept.  The kicker is the guru’s followers’ claim, that the mystic actually did rise from the dead.  Because that claim is so implausible, we immediately discount it… but because his followers seem so damn sure, we start looking for alternatives: He was in a coma.  The Roman authorities thought he was dead when they took him off the cross, but he was still just barely alive, and recovered.  The disciples found a convincing lookalike.  Mass hysteria.  Whatever — we accept that something like the Resurrection actually happened, just not the thing itself.

Which is an at least superficially plausible account of Christianity’s origins, and, since the appeal of its message is obvious, is thus a superficially plausible account of Christianity’s subsequent career.  Most of us “know” lots of intellectual and cultural history that way — e.g. you probably memorized something like “the Romantic movement was a backlash against the Industrial Revolution” without thinking about it too much.  If you’re not a believer, Fox Mulder’s motto is good enough — they wanted to believe, so they did, on whatever grounds did the trick at the time.*

Here’s another fairy tale: in 1517, the Western world was being trampled under the two oppressive boots of The Church and Feudalism.  Combined, they stifled free thought, free expression, and, most importantly, the free movement of goods and gold.  So when Martin Luther posted up his famous Theses, merchants everywhere seized upon their revolutionary potential to overthrow both the Church and its enabler, Feudalism (remember, the Church owned up to half the land in most kingdoms).  From then on, money and reform went hand in hand — Capitalism created Protestantism; dialectically, Protestantism created Capitalism.

This, too, is a superficially plausible account of the origins of the Early Modern world.  To take one of endless examples, it seems pretty suspicious that the guys leading the charge to overthrow and execute Charles I — an old-school Divine Right monarch if ever there were one — just happened to be both Puritans and petit bourgeois.  See also the Huguenots, the Plymouth Colony, etc. — nobody drives a harder bargain than a guy who thinks we’re all damned to hell.

Again — superficially plausible.  Problem is, unlike Christianity, Marx’s whole schmear doesn’t rely on a physical impossibility (for those who went to college after about 1990, or who skipped class before, that whole Capitalism/Protestantism thing is Kapital 101).  Saying credo quia absurdum doesn’t get you any social cachet – this is the much likelier response, plus loads of crippling self doubt on a lot of sleepless nights.  Reducing the vast sweep of human thought to “the needs of Capital,” however, makes you sound smart, or at least college educated, to people who have been trained to regard polysyllabic gobbledygook as profundity — that is, any graduate of the American school system in the past 50 years.  And since nearly all of us forget, nearly always,  that correlation is not causation, the fact that lots of merchants were Puritans makes us behave as if the desire to make a buck caused Puritanism, or vice versa.  We ignore all the Puritans who weren’t merchants (the vast majority), all the merchants who weren’t Puritans (ditto), and all the angst Puritan merchants themselves had over their lifestyles (cf. Max Weber, above, and the Salem Witch Trials).  “Capital” doesn’t do anything, because it can’t — capital-C “Capital” is historians’ shorthand for the outcome of a lot of interrelated but autonomous processes, not some mysterious Force that arranges people like chess pieces to accomplish its mysterious designs.

Mystical manipulation, see?  Because Protestantism, the consolidation of national states, a rapid rise in literacy, the expansion of international trade, a revolution in military tactics, and a zillion other things were all happening at the same time, and because you need money for all of them, it not only doesn’t sound absurd to say “Capitalism” caused them all, it actually sounds correct.  And because of that, the guy who says it sounds like a genius.  And because of that, that guy’s disciples start furiously spinning their rationalization hamsters to come up with canon-consistent explanations for all the stuff the guru got wrong — which is to say, the vast majority of it.

And, of course, if you disagree with me, I’ll flunk your term paper.

 

 

*Not being an ancient historian or a Christian apologist, I’d be curious to know if there were any other resurrection claims in the ancient world.  If you assume Christianity is just a myth, James Frazier-style, then yeah, there’s Osiris, Orpheus returning from the underworld, etc.  But did anyone, anywhere, ever claim that about a man?  Christianity spread by word of mouth from people who unquestionably existed, and who personally saw Jesus, before and after.  Saying that Christ was transformed into an Osiris figure after his death won’t hold, unless you also claim that the Apostles were also suffering from that specific delusion, immediately after the crucifixion.  I seem to recall that there are lots of references to sorcerers who claimed to be able to raise the dead, Witch of Endor-style, but no references to any individual so raised walking around in the sun.

Explaining Academia: Milieu Control, Part I

Milieu control is a basic mind-control tactic.  Severely restrict the environment, and you limit the mental world of its inhabitants.  Robert Jay Lifton’s Mind Control and the Psychology of Totalism is still the best primer on how this is done.  He identifies eight factors for successful “brainwashing.”  Lifton’s subjects were American POWs from the Korean War and former Chinese labor camp inmates, but stop me if this sounds familiar:

Milieu Control: This involves the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large.

Mystical Manipulation. The manipulation of experiences that appears spontaneous but is, in fact, planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority, spiritual advancement, or some exceptional talent or insight that sets the leader and/or group apart from humanity, and that allows reinterpretation of historical events, scripture, and other experiences. Coincidences and happenstance oddities are interpreted as omens or prophecies.

Demand for Purity. The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here.

Confession. Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members’ “sins,” “attitudes,” and “faults” are discussed and exploited by the leaders.

Sacred Science. The group’s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism.

Loading the Language. The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichés, which serve to alter members’ thought processes to conform to the group’s way of thinking.

Doctrine over person. Members’ personal experiences are subordinated to the sacred science and any contrary experiences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit the ideology of the group.

Dispensing of existence. The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group’s ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also.

Sounds like “How to Build an SJW in Eight Easy Steps,” doesn’t it?  American colleges have spent the past half-century perfecting it.

The first trick, that starts even before you arrive on campus, is “mystical manipulation.”  Obviously it doesn’t take a prison camp somewhere in the jungle to control a milieu.  In their long march through the institutions, our Gramscian Leftists have successfully co-opted the “rah-rah-sis-boom-bah” going-off-to-college thing, using the form while subverting the content.

Think about it for a sec: Where are you likely to find the most “offensive” team nicknames?  For as hot and bothered as our mini-Maos get over the Washington Redskins, there’s no comparable outcry over the Fighting Illini (Indians), the Hoosiers (yokels), the Fighting Irish, the Jayhawks (abolitionist guerrillas), the Seminoles, the Aztecs, and all the other horribly racist mascots and team names out there.  Some of that can of course be attributed to college kids’ vast, cosseted ignorance (I myself had no idea who Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls was), but some of the others are pretty obvious.  Ditto campus traditions like the University of Iowa’s famous pink visitors’ locker room.  This gets a little squib in the sports news every fall, as feminist professors and students stage their annual protest.  But it never gets changed, even though football is as Patriarchal as it gets and Iowa, like Wisconsin, Michigan, and the rest of the corn-country bolsheviks, prides itself on its progressive bona fides.  The answer is pretty simple: love them or hate them, the act of either loving or hating them is one hell of a team-builder.  Nobody who didn’t go there has ever heard of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, but I promise you that every current and former student has a very strong opinion on whether or not the “Vaquero” mascot is offensive.  And that’s not even considering all the “offensive” high school nicknames and mascots out there.  Grade school “educators” and administrators are the most PC people on the planet.  Don’t you think the Midgets and the Arabs would be changed in a heartbeat in any other context?  It’s by design.

Our declawed modern adolescence plays right into their hands.  Teenagerhood is a frantic quest for an identity.  That’s what all those hokey high school rituals used to be about.  You get some girl to wear your letter jacket, and you write her name on your book covers, not because you’re the love of each other’s life, and certainly not to stake a claim or whatever the feminists would have you believe.  It’s an identity claim: I am the type of person who can get a girl to wear my letter jacket / get a boy to write my name on his book covers.  And you go to prom together, and you have “your song” that you have to stop and kiss whenever it plays on the radio, and all that other gloopy Leave It to Beaver crap.  And so too with any of the other identities high school kids used to put on and take off, like the clothes that marked them — “goth,” “stoner,” “preppie,” whatever.  It didn’t matter that you didn’t actually like The Cure all that much, or if your girlfriend lived in Canada; everyone pretended to believe your identity claim, because you were pretending to believe theirs, and that’s how you got the mental, emotional, and social tools to actually construct a real identity for yourself when you got out on your own.

Cultural Marxism killed all that.  Technology played its part, too — nobody has “their song” in the iTunes era — but mostly it was deliberate.  Now everyone gets a letter jacket and it’s some kind of hate crime to hold hands with someone of the opposite gender — if, of course, you still believe in such an outdated and hateful concept as “gender” — in a public place.  Nobody’s different and everyone’s the best at everything, as Principal Skinner put it.

So identity formation gets put off until college.  You start out as a Wolverine or a Tiger or a Banana Slug or whatever, but you end up a Social Justice Warrior.  You come to college decked out in all the gear, your dorm is festooned with the mascot, the streets of the town are all named after famous alumni, and every business seems to cater just to you (complete with “welcome to campus!” specials).  The word “townie” enters your vocabulary, and if you’re in a big city, you learn that the surrounding area is a no-go zone (the “townies” in that situation invariably being Vibrant and Diverse, but in a non-celebrated way).  Nobody learns the fight song or wears the freshman beanie anymore, but thanks to campus-specific social media, you learn right away, and in great depth, what it means to be a Directional Tech Fightin’ Whatever.  You’re already separated from you hometown, your high school, your parents, and your friends (even your best buds, and especially if they went to hated rival Regional State).  You’re primed and ready, in other words, to believe anything your indoctrinator tells you.

And then you go to class.

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.

 

Reductio ad Leftism

Stacy McCain has some questions for the radical feminists:

Any skeptic must ask, why are the categories of “man” and “woman” political? Why is there a quasi-Marxist “class struggle” between men and women,” what does it mean to describe heterosexuality as an “economic system,” and what manner of “society” could exist without heterosexuality?

Let me take a stab at answering them.  Now, obviously these are rhetorical questions — the answer, as McCain notes in the very next sentence, is: “Wittig’s purpose is to destroy “society” as it exists.”  What I want to do here is explore some of the “thought” process behind this rhetorical strategy, because trust me, your kids are getting this in college.

There’s a nugget of truth in every Big Idea Leftist academics (BIRM) have farted out over the last half century… so I guess technically it should be “sharted out,” but whatever, point is, all academic theorizing is a variation of Jon Stewart’s “clown nose on / clown nose off” rhetorical strategy.  Stewart makes some asinine fanservice remark, and if he gets too much blowback for being an obvious partisan hack, he says “oh lighten up, it was just a joke,” and points to his smirking fanbois as evidence.  If he doesn’t get called on it, though, he and all his fanbois repeat it over and over as if it’s a serious bit of political analysis, which enables them to claim that they’re Smarter and Better Informed Than You even though they get all their profound mindthoughts from a Comedy Central bobblehead.

Academia works the same way.  They like to pretend that everything, and I do mean everything, is words and nothing but words.  Which is tautologically true: Since we can only think in words, words are necessarily what we think in.  So what happens if we change the words?

No, seriously.  Maybe you weren’t a huge nerd as a teenager, but trust me, this stuff is catnip to a certain kind of dork who thinks he’s way smarter than he actually is.  Normies see you calling a rabbit a smeerp and laugh, because hey, it’s still just a rabbit.  But playing with words does change your perceptions.  Consider these definitions of “human being:”

  • A human being is a rational animal, the only known rational animal in the universe.
  • A human being is a great ape, halfway in size between a chimpanzee and a gorilla.

Both equally true, but oh what a difference!  Clown nose off, this is persuasion, a selective presentation of facts towards a rhetorical end.  Clown nose on, and in comes the unstated but lethally important qualifier, the suggestion of which is the whole point of the exercise:  “A human being is nothing but a great ape.”

So the tautology

  • “as we can only think in words, we think in words”

becomes, clown nose on,

  • “as we can only think in words, words mediate our interaction with reality”

which with the addition of some baggy pants, floppy shoes, and a seltzer horn, becomes

  • “as words mediate our interaction with reality, words create our reality.”

which of course is logically equivalent to

  • “reality itself is nothing but words.”

And boom, you’re a Social Justice Warrior.*  My preferred pronouns are “xyr” and “jermajesty.”

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Should anyone challenge you on this… well, since you usually only hear stuff like this in the academy, what you do is fail ’em and report ’em to the Dean for hate speech.  But if someone on the Board of Regents, say, asks you — pink slip in hand — if you’re really teaching undergrads that reality itself is nothing but words, you take the clown nose off and say oh no, of course not, we’re only teaching that words influence perception.

And that’s how you get feminists asserting that “man” and “woman” are political, that there’s a class struggle between them, et cetera ad nauseam.  It’d make your eyes bleed to do this for every item on the list, but here’s a brief e.g.:

“Masculinity,” say, is both DEscriptive and PREscriptive.  When we define behavior X as “masculine,” we’re saying “X is what real men do;” at the same time, we’re also saying “if you want to be considered a real man, do X.”  And who is this “we”?  Why, the community of language-users, of course.  And since that community changes, the sense of the word also changes — the Vikings had a word for “masculine,” no doubt, but it meant something very different than the English word.  Which means notions like “masculinity” are (nothing but) “social constructions;” they change as society changes.  And how does society change?  Via politics, of course, since “politics” is defined as the interplay of personal preferences in the public sphere.  Thus words like “man” and “woman” are, at bottom, political categories.  You and I and my prison gang voted; you’re the woman.

Feel free to take the final exam: If social life is nothing but economics — which follows, clown nose on, from the observation that people exchange stuff for other stuff — you should easily be able to deduce why heterosexuality is an economic system, and thus explain the quasi-Marxist class war between the sexes.

Yes, they really do think like this.  They have to — without the notion that life itself is nothing but words, Leftism will always founder on Reality’s rocks.  I’ve given you the academic version, but you can see it everywhere these days.  It’s why the Cult will never give up on the idea that Putin hacked the election, for example — if he didn’t, then the American people really did prefer Trump to their terrible, horrible, no good very bad candidate Hillary, which is unpossible.  So they’ll keep repeating it until it’s true, and it will be true — until the last remnants of the USA are overrun by superintelligent apes, it’ll be a true fact that everyone knows Putin hacked the election for Trump.  Because if you can just get enough people to repeat if for long enough, reality itself will conform to your magic, magic words, because after all, since we can only think in words, words mediate our interaction with….

QED.

 

 

*The Six Readers will undoubtedly recognize this as The Gem, aka The Worst Argument in the World.  I seriously can’t recommend David Stove enough to y’all.

Explaining Academia: Michel Foucault

The “Explaining Academia” series exists for two reasons: 1) to show you what a massive scam college is, and 2) as a supervillain origin story for Leftist chestnuts. Today’s nonsense about “toxic masculinity,” and trans-whateverism, and proclaiming oneself narwhalsexual and calling oneself “xyr,” for instance…. all this was being hashed out in gender studies courses a decade ago. So let’s take a trip in the wayback machine, to the late 1960s. Groovy, baby!

austinpowers_0Believe it or not, there once was a time when a thinker’s personal life had nothing to do with his ideas… but that time was not the Sixties, and Michel Foucault is one of the main reasons why.  Michel Foucault was a queer Frog philosopher who liked rough sex.  Had that not been the case, his infantile Nietzsche-lite act would never have seen the light of day.

Turns out that whole “rejecting bourgeois morality” thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Foucault, and the kind of people who read Foucault, weren’t satisfied with the free love they were getting in the Summer of Love (as good little Marxists, they’d rejected the capitalist axiom that things are worth what you pay for them).  And since nothing can ever be a liberal’s fault, they concluded that there’s something wrong with sexuality itself. 

So along comes Foucault, to tell us that sex, like morality, culture, and everything else, is nothing but power.  All human interactions are merely transactions, and since no two individuals will ever be equal*, all transactions are, at bottom,** exploitation.  There is no “sex,” not really, and there’s surely no “love” — there is only Domination, Submission, and Resistance.

Like every harebrained idea the ivory tower has farted out in the last half-century, Foucault’s “power / resistance” stuff is trivially true.  If you have something I want, you have “power” over me — you can set the terms of the exchange.  If I pay your price, I “submit.”  But if the price is too high, I will search for other ways to get it — I will “resist.”  Of course, all this talk of “price” and “exchange” makes the whole deal look a lot like capitalism…..

….because it IS capitalism, squeezed into gimp-suit jargon.  I was a bit too young for the singles’ bar scene, but this is exactly how the world’s Kate Milletts described dating back in the Disco Era: commodity exchange, and isn’t it just awful how men expect sex after shelling out a week’s paycheck on dinner and drinks?  That they got this notion from a guy who’d give Andrew Sullivan’s RawMuscleGlutes a vigorous spanking tells you everything you need to know about Second-Wave Feminism, but that’s irrelevant.  The point is that only a Cheeto-dusted basement dweller would read this stuff and think yes, this is a deep and meaningful way of describing human interaction.  Which is why it took academia by storm.

And once you start looking at the world this way, it gets harder and harder to stop.  Foucault didn’t; he went full retard, arguing that modern penitentiaries, like modern medical centers, trick us into participating in our own slavery.  We don’t draw-and-quarter people anymore, says Foucault, because early modern governments so arranged the “technologies of power” that we internalize the ruling elite’s expectations for us, making gaudy public torture unnecessary.***  Which is clever, I guess, until you start asking who is employing these “micro-physics of power;” who came up with the codes, and, most importantly, why?  This is the “Nietzsche-lite” of Foucault’s infantile Nietzsche-lite act.  Also the “infantile” part.  Ask any teenager: The reason your parents say they have all those rules is to make you a better person, but really it’s to make things easier on them, and really it’s just because they like torturing kids.  Which is why they’re literally Hitler.

The most interesting thing, in my view, is that once again we have the Left reducing the entire vast spectacle of human history to ONE thing… and then ignoring the obvious implications of that one thing.  Let’s say Foucault is right, and all that stuff we call “culture” — religion, the family, honor, patriotism, heterosexuality, whatever — really are just masks for raw power.  Ok, so…. we’re supposed to let “Progressives” shame us into doing what they want?  The proper response to a Progressive charge of “rayciss” is, according to Progressives’ own philosophy, “so?  Racism is a social construction.  You’re only accusing me of it to subordinate me.  I choose resistance. Pistols at dawn, motherfucker.”

If Foucault is right, then there’s no possible end to the Hobbesian war of all against all, because the social contract is just another “technology of power.”  And just as Nietzsche — raw power’s original apostle — was a half-blind syphilitic, so his ape was a power bottom who died of AIDS, and so his apes in academia are noodle-armed pajamaboys and trigglypuffs.

Do y’all seriously want to keep claiming that all is power, power, nothing but power?

 

*If you want to say that this is why Lefties are all-in on group rights — that many of them figure the only way they’ll get laid is to equalize the collective value between themselves and potential partners — go nuts.

**heh heh…”bottom.”  You really can’t avoid double entendres like this when talking about guys like Foucault, even if you tried… which is why I don’t bother trying.

***You don’t need to be an early modernist or a queer Frog philosopher who likes it rough to come up with a zillion better explanations for this fact.  Common sense works just fine.  Could it be, perhaps, that the reason there were so many capital crimes on the books in the pre-modern age was that law enforcement was pretty much nonexistent?  Half the people in a given country didn’t know their king’s name; do you think they spent much time memorizing the penal code?  If the duke actually caught a lawbreaker red-handed, he’d have every incentive to get medieval on him, pour encourager les autres.