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.

Know Your Leftist: Antonio Gramsci

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

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

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

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

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

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

occupy girl2

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

Today’s SJW is Tomorrow’s Obergruppenfuhrer

or why nothing is anybody’s fault, part III.

As Marxism is Calvinism minus God, so modern “social justice” ideology is Marxism minus Marx.

Calvinism’s two fundamental tenets are:

  1. mankind’s total depravity, and
  2. predestination

Only a tiny fraction of mankind is destined to be Saved; you’ll know you’re one of them if you hate the rest of humanity almost as much as you hate yourself.  Since this is not a psychologically sustainable creed, even for such world-class haters as the Puritans, in practice Calvinism was endless, frantic displacement activity – the famous “Protestant work ethic.”  Drop God, and Puritans become Yankees — dour, hectoring pharisees who call you a whore while they’re fucking you over to make a few bucks.

Marxism’s two fundamental tenets are exactly the same.  Social classes, not God, do the predestining and the hatred gets called “revolutionary consciousness,” but it’s the same thing, with the same result — read any academic Marxist work and try to stay awake through the endless theoretical discussions of A’s version of B’s critique of C’s revision of D’s misunderstanding of the relationship between base and superstructure….

Just as 18th century science killed Calvin’s God, so 20th century history killed Marx’s.  Marx’s nonsense “economics” and sub-Hegelian worship of History are so laughably wrong that hardly anyone without a second PhD can mention them with a straight face.  Drop Marx, and Marxists become Social Justice Warriors — people who know xzhemselves to be on the right side of History, despite also knowing that there are no facts, only discourses.  They become, in effect, nothing but power worshipers.

And that’s where it gets interesting.  Marx’s disciples, e.g. Lenin, were power worshipers too, but they at least had the excuse (if that’s the word) of thinking they’d tapped into a real, existing power — the irresistible Force of History — in the same way the Puritans knew they were Saved.  SJWs know there’s no History; History is, after all, the narrative unfolding of Truth.  There are no facts, only discourses; and hence no Truth, only the provisional “truths” of whatever temporary coalition has the power to enforce them.

These days, of course, the SJWs still believe themselves to be that coalition.  BUT: it doesn’t have to be that way, as they know best of all (not consciously, of course, but in their secret hearts).  How could it be otherwise?  Hence the ongoing apocalyptic freakout over the rise of Donald Trump.  Trump uses language better than they do — Hillary’s campaign, it’s becoming clear, was over from the moment he uttered his famous “because you’d be in jail” quip.  Trump’s coalition might well twist language in such a way that his discourse prevails.

At that point, they’d be consistent with their philosophy — Trump’s discourse triumphed; therefore Trump’s discourse is right.  And so they’ll do what they always do, jump out in front of the parade and pretend to lead it by being More Radical Than Thou.  And so today’s blue-haired bicurious vegan slam poet is tomorrow obergruppenfuhrer.  I give it maybe three more years before they start trading in their pink pussy hats for red and black armbands.

LITERALLY a Metaphor

Kids these days can’t process figurative speech.  Literally can’t process it, which is why they say “literally” all the time.  If you’re under 30, it’s like… like…

I’m sure there are cog-sci studies on this, if anyone cares to plow through PubMed one rainy afternoon.  I’m going off my observations interacting with, and attempting to instruct, college kids.  So, yeah, it’s all anecdotal, but the sample size is decent.  I see the following types of communication:

Undigested Metaphors.  E.g “Donald Trump is literally Hitler.”  George Orwell nailed this back in 1946, and as this post is really just an attempt to update “Politics and the English Language,” you should probably skip this and go read that.  Should you choose to soldier on, this is the essay with the famous quote “The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. ”  The rest of the paragraph is equally instructive:

The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Petain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.

We don’t use Bolshevik jargon like “reactionary” or “bourgeois” much anymore, but the others are very much with us.  In Orwell’s day they at least still had vestigial meanings — even the commie trying to justify Stalin’s gulags would make a nod to Plato when asked “what is justice?”(1)  These days, we’re in the odd position of throwing around words and phrases that have never meant anything.  Whites being racist towards other whites in favor of blacks, as compensation for the supposed racism of other whites towards other blacks — all of whom have been dead for 100+ years in most cases — and calling anyone who notices the blatant self-contradiction “racist”… that’s the kind of thing I mean.  Kids who call Donald Trump “literally Hitler” don’t know any of Trump’s policies and couldn’t recognize a Nazi if he anschlussed their ass with his jackboot.  It’s just a metaphor that passes through their speech undigested, kinda like corn in… well, that’s another metaphor, so I won’t confuse any Millennial readers with it.  The point of Undigested Metaphors is to express disapproval, with an implied threat of legal action.

Voice-to-Text.  This is an expression of disapproval without the implied threat of legal action, as most VtT phrases could themselves be actionable.  E.g. “ur a fag,” the standard putdown of “noobs” (or whatever it is now) on the internet / video games / whatever.  It might as well be an emoji, and had voice-to-text technology progressed slower, it probably would’ve been, e.g. 8=>.  It doesn’t occur to users that words like “fag” actually mean something — it can’t, as the people who throw around homosexual slurs the most are Social Justice Warriors, who at every opportunity proclaim themselves the BFFs of every sexual orientation except straight.

Tweets. A cant(2) phrase intended to be retweeted / upvoted, i.e. virtue-signaling.  As any actual information content would almost always destroy the intended effect, Tweets are effectively anti-communication. E.g. “love trumps hate!,” followed immediately by “DIAF Republicans!”  In the dark ages before social media, this was called bumperstickerese — see, for example, any Subaru Outback in any college town in America, where “Coexist” bumper stickers nestle quite comfortably next to calls for the eradication of entire classes of people.

Tinfoil Hat Prose.  According to feminists, everything that’s wrong with a feminist’s life is the fault of The Patriarchy, even though nobody knows any patriarchs.  Same goes for White Skin Privilege, Heterosexuality, and all the other “social constructions” — if they were true, we’d never know about it, because all the chicks, gays, blacks, etc. would still be on the plantation(3).  Phrases like “social construction” give the veneer of academic respectability to what are essentially hare-brained conspiracy theories.  It’s easy enough to detect one — just ask, “who is society (a patriarch, etc.), comrade?  Point to a specific member of the set.”  As the whole point of Tinfoil Hat Prose is to keep everything in the passive voice — “women are oppressed by the patriarchal reification of capitalism” instead of “women are oppressed by Steve” — the same technique refudiates it.

KISSes.  New writers are commanded to “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” and this is the only type of prose modern kids can handle.  In my experience, you can’t make instructions simple enough.  Your sentences can’t be too short, too clear, too declarative.  If you leave any room for interpretation at all, you will be misinterpreted, in hilarious ways you couldn’t have forseen in a million years.  This is literally — literally!!! — the only way to communicate with Millennials.

More as the mood strikes me.

 

(1) n.b. to any Millennials reading this: “What is justice?” was the central question of Plato’s Republic, which used to be required reading in any college humanities class… often in the original Greek.  Here’s a summary.

(2) n.b. to Millennials, not a typo (though how would you know?).  “Clear your mind of cant” isn’t an uplifting slogan about being all you can be; it’s about thinking for yourself.  “Cant” is dogma, things “everyone knows,” the rote bullshit you had to memorize for every test you’ve ever taken in your entire lives.  Rosa Parks is the patron saint of cant.

(3) no, really, homosexuals used to be confined to lavender plantations, which were located in closets.  That was the point of the Stonewall Riots.  Pick up a history book, why dontcha?

“Home Grown” Rotten Fruit

So I’m reading this article … and it suddenly becomes crystal clear what I’m being sold and how it’s being sold:

Allowing a terrorist disguised as a refugee is a possibility, Sandweg said. But he added, “talk to any professional and they will probably say what keeps them up at night is the homegrown terrorist.”

In Paris, where 129 were killed in a combination of shootouts and bombings, some of those responsible were radicalized French or Belgian citizens.

“There is a notion that refugees are the source of the problem.  Recent events show the opposite.  Individuals get radicalized at home and it’s not the wolf slipping in in sheep’s clothing.”

Let’s take a look at the wording up there.

“Homegrown terrorist.”

And “homegrown” terrorists are grown from what sort of seed, in general?

Next sentence “some of those responsible were radicalized French or Belgian citizens”.

Some of them.  They didn’t even say “most” of them.  And you know darned well that if they could say “most” of them, they would.

Second, if we look at the “radicalized” citizens, what was their path to said citizenship?  I’ll bet francs to beignets they weren’t multi-generational French people named “Pierre” or “Francois”.  Immigrants become citizens unless they’re there illegally.  Refugees who have children have children who are citizens at the very least.

Now back to my first question … who is it being radicalized?

By saying “homegrown” and “citizens”, they are intentionally disguising the problem, and that is the problem of setting up a culture clash in your own country.  It might not happen often in the first generation … but that’s not what’s been going on in Europe, is it?

This is exactly what one would expect when you import people from radically different cultures and bend over backward to allow them not to assimilate.  This leaves, after a generation or two, a large population of unassimilated people who have thus not been able to successfully integrate into society, most of whom probably therefore have crappy jobs and don’t mix with their new “home” countrymen.  And they understandably feel “separate” and “other”.  And it just so happens that their religious cohorts in their families’ original home countries and around the world are all to willing to provide the spark needed for radicalization, even self-radicalization.

But it all happened here at home, so don’t worry about bringing more in.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.

 

Fake Intellectuals

Further to a post at Z Man’s, there is exactly one political principle that doesn’t lead directly to totalitarianism: Equality before the law.  This principle cannot be amended, modified, nuanced, gray area-d, penumbra-d, folded, spindled, or mutilated.  Equality before the law, and let the chips fall where they may.

This will of course entail some outcomes that are not socially just.  Equally applied, the anti-crime laws will disproportionately affect blacks, as they commit disproportionate amounts of crime.  Equally applied, the patent laws will disproportionately favor Jews and East Asians, as they have higher average IQs.  And yes, equally applied, the laws pretty much guarantee that some people are going to get screwed, even up to, sigh, children starving in the streets.

lovejoy-think-of-the-children-16nov131

Life ain’t fair, and this notion that it’s somehow the government’s job to make life fair — thus abandoning the principle of Equality Before the Law — leads directly to tyranny:

  • There is no objective definition of “fair;”
  • Therefore, someone must be empowered to judge individual cases;
  • Anyone granted such power will abuse it;

And pretty soon we’re reduced to arguing whether that FEMA camp is a gulag, a workhouse, a concentration camp, or a thought reform center.

That’s really all there is to it.  People are what they are.  We can make up fancy theories about why this can’t happen, or that it’s actually fair, or how that guy really deserved his rubber hose time in a secret police dungeon, but at bottom there is only Reality.

Stop intellectualizing.  Stop over-thinking.  Stop rationalizing.  There is Reality, and there is Theory, and when the two conflict, Theory must yield to Reality.  You’ll find that’s true even in the gulag (thought reform center, whatever).  The way things are going, I’ll be in the next bunk over.

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.

Thanksgiving Chestnuts

As everybody knows, on this date back in 1620, evil white genocidal gun-toting religious fanatics tricked the noble Native Americans into teaching them how to grow corn, which in their language was called “maize.” Soon all the noble Native Americans died from smallpox-infected blankets. And patriarchy. Also global warming.

So have a good one, fellow Deplorables. Oppress a LGBTQ family member, grab a pussy, be sure not to use any parts of the buffalo, and make America great again. Heil Hitler.*

*this post brought to you straight from the brain of every obnoxious freshperson just home from their $50K/year “safe space,” formerly known as a “college.” It does not reflect the opinions of the writer, the management, WordPress, the Republican Party, the designated hitter, or any of their heirs, assigns, or pets.**

**No, really — have a great one, y’all. I’m off to watch football and test the human stomach’s maximum elasticity.

Time Doesn’t Exist – and other Sophist nonsense

So I sawtime this on Facebook.

It’s very deep, of course.

The argument goes like this:  Time doesn’t exist because the units we use to measure it can’t be found in nature. (They can, actually, we may get to that later).

But of course, this is absurd.  The same logic could be used to argue that distance doesn’t exist because centimeters are a social construct, or that mass doesn’t exist because grams are a social construct.

The fact that 3:02 PM on a Tuesday is just a social construct doesn’t mean that time doesn’t exist.  This is an important distinction.  Failing to make the distinction leads to all sorts of logical folly.

In a conversation with Severian a while back, we noted that sophists started this whole deal (or more accurately, perhaps, popularized and formalized it) where we confuse the words we use for things for the things themselves.

I commented on the photo, basically saying what I just wrote above, adding “trust me, time exists.”

To which my friend replied, “we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.”

Now I know he’s intelligent enough to understand what I’m saying and just wasn’t following at the time and was not interested in trying, so I just dropped it.  But it was clear he was stuck on the language of the photo posted and saw what the truth in it is — and went with the conclusion.  I wasn’t arguing the facts stated in the post.  I was arguing with the two conclusions, that 1) Time doesn’t exist, and 2) that time as a social construct makes us slaves to it.  Time, that is.  The thing that doesn’t exist.

My immediate thought was “we’ll have to agree to disagree”.  By “we’ll” I assume he means “we will”, which means starting at some point in time and going forward.  In time.  Which doesn’t exist.

If time doesn’t exist, then not only is there no future, there is no now.  And if there is no “now”, there is no “is”.  So I, who apparently do not exist in the first place, just “proved” that nothing exists.  Which is a tall order if you parse that sentence at all.

I recall a story from Zen Buddhism that basically went like so:

The master asks the student some koan (I forget what it was), and days later the student comes back and proudly answers that nothing exists.  The master then slaps him across the face and asks, “then what was that?”

Confusing language for reality gets us in a lot of trouble, quickly, especially when we start substituting reality for language — which is the direct opposite of what language does.  Reality is reality, language is the abstract.  It doesn’t mean reality is abstract.

It gets us into lots of trouble in all sorts of subject areas.  And politicians, the main consumers of sophistry, use this to great advantage, every day.

As far as the “slave” thing goes … the social construct of 3:02 PM on a Tuesday was created so we, who are by nature social beasts, can better cooperate with each other. If anything, we are slaves to our nature.  But that should come as no surprise.  Everything is.

More specifically, we are really slaves to agreements – but agreements are necessary for social behavior whether it’s “you must do this by such and such time or I will have you flogged” or “if you do this by such and such time I will pay you … something.”  The nature of the first “agreement”, of course, is coercive and immoral.

But if time doesn’t exist, then morality certainly doesn’t exist.  We can find no physical evidence of it in nature, right?  So who cares?  I digress.

The same thing is being done with gender right now.  In nature, humans are male or female (there are a few biological aberrations, but everyone by and large is one or the other).  Now, there are certain personality traits we associate more with one gender or another, and we have taken to some standardized ways of expressing ourselves accordingly.

But what have our modern sophists done?  They have taken these expressions, this “language”, and substituted them back into the reality of gender, claiming that gender is just a social construct.  But no, it is the expressions that are social constructs.  Gender remains what it always has been.  But the sophists insist that it is not.

What this boils down to is a war on society.  The assumption is that social constructs are arbitrary and therefore worthless.

But “worth” is also a social construct.

So I guess I can officially opt out of this conversation.

*note: 3:02 PM on a Tuesday does, in fact, exist.  It just had no name.  The name is an abstract.  The point in time is a reality.

The Majesty of Royalty

Nicholas II, Charles I, Louis XVI… pick your deposed monarch. If you look at history with a jaundiced eye, you have to wonder: how did ANY of these guys survive as long as they did?

When asked “why was so-and-so deposed?,” different groups give different answers. Historians start looking for “root causes” — Charles I didn’t accept the new commercial ethos of the Puritan middle class; Nicholas II tried to rule as an autocrat through an all-but-medieval bureaucracy, etc. History Channel specials focus on personalities — that Richard III sure was a bastard, wasn’t he?

But forget about all that for a sec, and just focus on the situation. People actually fought for these guys, even though slitting, say, Henry VI’s throat would’ve been the easiest thing in the world. The lords who did all these loons’ heavy lifting on the battlefield could’ve crowned themselves king with — at worst — no more of a fight than the civil war they were already fighting on behalf of their drooling halfwit king. Why didn’t they?

It’s the culture, stupid. Think of English Bob’s “why not shoot a President?” speech in that great old Western Unforgiven: “At the mere sight of royalty, one’s hand would shake as if palsied!” One doesn’t kill a king because…. one doesn’t kill a king, even if that means meekly going to the chopping block or into exile like so many Howards before.

Your rebel lord, in other words, is just some guy. The peasants may hold him in awe, but his fellow aristocrats don’t — peers maneuvering to ruin each other was the national sport of every court in the Middle Ages, in their brief breaks between trying to kill each other on the battlefield. Very few kings got shanked, even when it was in everyone’s obvious best interest (e.g. the Hundred Years’ War, which would’ve been about 75 years shorter if someone had just slipped Jean II some tainted snails).

This is a lesson our wannabe-aristocrats in the political elite should ponder. As the Z Man points out re: Hillary Clinton, she’s not in it for the ego-stroke; she’s in it for the money. But the Clintons are arrivistes, the 21st century equivalent of hustling rubes from the sticks who bought their patents of nobility from an addled old monarch who found them almost as useful as they were amusing. While being a titled court jester suits Bill just fine — he’s a poonhound who only cares about droit de siegneur — Hillary’s got a hole in her soul that no amount of money will ever fill. She certainly thinks she’s in it for the money, as she has understandably confused money with security and above all prestige… but she’s wrong, as she will find out to her great dismay should she win the Presidency. Even if the King is a drooling halfwit, he’s still the King, and she’s not, and never will be. We can only hope she doesn’t set the world ablaze trying to avoid that lesson.

Or the related lesson, which is that once the Majesty of Royalty is revealed to be a “social construction” — ponder that deliciously postmodern phrase for a sec — deposing monarchs gets to be something of a habit. Look at all those Roman emperors who barely had time to slip on the purple toga before getting shanked by their Praetorian guard. Wilhelm II was ousted in favor of some lawyers; a grubby bald professor-wannabe had the last Czar killed almost as an afterthought; El Sleazo Caudillo del Momento always gets it from some playboy junior officer who can barely zip his own pants.

Legitimacy is built on symbols. The process takes decades, if not centuries. But it’s gone in an instant.