When Fringe Weirdos Start Running Things

The less stable the center of society, the weirder things get on the fringes.  But what happens when the fringes move to the center?

Puritanism is a good example.  Puritanism wasn’t the weirdest fringe movement to come out of the early Reformation — that’s probably Anabaptism — but it was one of the strongest.  We moderns find it incomprehensible, especially Predestination.  If we truly have no free will, and have been saved or damned from all eternity, why bother to do anything?  Why not retreat into quietism, or hedonism, or despair?

The question is a category error.  Those are logical consequences of the doctrine of predestination, and some, like the Quakers, did logically withdraw into quietism.  But since when has religious belief been about logic?* Puritanism’s strength wasn’t its theory, but its practice.

Everybody knows that Puritans wanted to purge the church — and, through it, all of society — of vice, and for once what “everybody knows” is correct.  You’ve probably heard the Book of Sports mentioned, and though it wasn’t nearly as comprehensive as it’s made out to be, that’s the basic idea.

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That’s the trick.  That’s how you avoid sinking into despair while thinking through predestination — obviously you’re not one of the damned, because you’re so blessedly enthusiastic about stamping out sin.  It’s the externals of the doctrine that matter — behavior, not belief.

Problem is, behavior and belief are reciprocal.  The more comprehensive the doctrine, the more behavior you must regulate; the more behavior you must regulate, the more comprehensive the doctrine must be to back it up.  For the Puritans, everything not explicitly permitted by the Bible was sinful.  That’s why they were against throwing dice, for instance. Dice is a game of “chance,” and since God preordains everything, there is no such thing as chance.  Tossing dice — behaving as if “chance” is real — is therefore blasphemy.  And that’s Puritanism’s fatal flaw.  When even wearing the wrong color clothes put you in Satan’s camp, nobody could rest assured he was always on the side of the angels.  Misbehaviors are seen as failures of doctrine, and what man has ever followed all the rules to the letter, or avoided hypocrisy?

None of that would matter if Puritanism remained a fringe movement.  As scholars of the period have amply demonstrated, even very weird weirdos would generally be left alone, provided they didn’t make themselves too obnoxious to the authorities.**  But Puritanism didn’t remain a fringe doctrine.  Thanks to the ineptitude of King Charles I and the genius of Oliver Cromwell, Puritanism was the law of the land in England for years.  And in Colonial New England, of course, it was the law of the land from the start.

The results are as instructive as they were inevitable.  The English voted to bring their king back rather than go another day under Puritan rule, not least because Oliver’s son “Tumbledown Dick” Cromwell wasn’t a very good Puritan (he wasn’t a very good anything).  A lot of other stuff factored in there as well, but in New England, the only real challenge to Puritanism was the Puritans themselves.  As their society grew healthier, safer, and more prosperous — and by 1690, it was arguably the best in the West on all those metrics — dour Puritan fanaticism started easing up… with the obvious implication that maybe God was at least sorta ok with health, safety, and prosperity.  Could it really be so bad to wear “ribbons or great boots…lace, points, etc., silk hoods, or scarves”?

Which brings us to the Salem Witch Trials.  No, really — feminists insist that the Salem girls were driven temporarily crazy by the strictures of patriarchal society, and for once they’ve got a point.  Far from being a triumph of Puritan fanaticism, the witch trials were Puritanism’s last gasp.  Those who couldn’t adjust to the passing of the old order tried to reassert their control by persecuting Satan’s minions.  They overreached, as fanatics always do, and in doing so they discredited their whole doctrine.  Cotton Mather may have sucked up to the old guard after the fact, but the “evidence” laid out in Wonders of the Invisible World was so dubious, and the trials themselves such an obvious farce, that nobody could take New England Puritanism seriously anymore (Cotton Mather spent the rest of his life carping at the otherwise unknown Robert Calef, who was the kind of skeptical gadfly ol’ Increase would’ve exiled to Rhode Island, and Cromwell would’ve burned at the stake).

Which brings us to now.  Our modern Puritans, the Social Justice Warriors, are well into the witch trial phase of their decline.  Cromwell to Cotton Mather was 50 years; it’s been 50 years since the Summer of Love, and the Cult has really only been in complete charge since the later 1970s.  And right on schedule, we have judges admitting spectral evidence of Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice into trials, and hysterics in the NCAA are forcing states to let mentally ill men in sundresses make wee-wee in the little girls’ room.  “Social Justice” is as all-encompassing as Puritanism, and since there’s no behavior it can safely leave unregulated, it must necessarily devolve into Matherish insanity.  Elizabeth I didn’t burn her Puritan fanatics; she welcomed them back with open arms, and 100 years later they were destroying her heirs’ country.  We didn’t laugh our neo-Puritan fanatics out of public life when we had the chance; we let them run our media and education industries, and now they’re ripping the country apart.

That’s what happens when you let fringe weirdos start running things.  There’s a lesson here, but it’s a harsh one… too bad we’re going to have to relearn it very soon.

 

 

*n.b. to spergs, I said belief.  Lots of things about religion are perfectly logical.  Nobody is better at logic than Thomas Aquinas, for example.  But even Aquinas admitted that his logic, impeccable though it was, wouldn’t get you through to belief in the Christian God.  Only revelation does that.

**n.b. that particular weirdo ended up getting burned at the stake.  If you’re going to be a weirdo, don’t do it in the Pope’s backyard.

Piano Man

Ace of Spades links to an Atlantic Monthly piece wondering how Billy Joel, who hasn’t released a commercial album since 1993, can keep selling out Madison Square Garden.  Since it’s behind a paywall I can’t see what those geniuses actually came up with, but I’m willing to bet that the real answer is: Joel’s music is apolitical.

These days, of course, you will be made to care.  You can’t watch sports anymore without #BLM propaganda, and we all know about the video games trainwreck.  I doubt there’s been a movie released in the last ten years without an ass-kicking heroine and a heroic gay man, and as for pop music, it’s so converged that even Katy Perry supposedly released a “political” song.

imagesBecause yeah, that’s why Katy Perry is popular.

Billy Joel, by contrast, has a sad-sack everyman persona, and makes tinkly piano pop to match.  I have no idea what Mr. Joel’s personal politics are; given that he’s a New Yorker, a Jew, and a celebrity, I’m confident he’s a drooling progtard offstage.  His music, though, is apolitical, and doesn’t lend itself to the kind of in-concert sermonizing Bruce Springsteen’s similarly sad-sack everyman tunes do — you can make a whole big deal about how “Born to Run” is about working class life in Reagan’s America or whatever, but you can’t really break off the chorus of “Uptown Girl” for a pro-Hillary harangue.

The rest of the culture is an indistinguishable gray blur.  You can root for your favorite sportsball team, or play a video game where you’re a knight in shining armor, or go to the movies, or read a novel, or listen to Top 40 pop, but it’s all the same thing underneath — the Cult of Modern Liberalism serves a jealous god, and there’s no place to hide from Him.  I don’t particularly care for Mr. Joel’s music on its own, but next to Generic Top 40 Hit Model A-342 — currently blaring at halftime shows and in video game cutscenes everywhere — “Piano Man” sounds like the 1812 Overture, and for that reason alone, he’s the only currently touring act I’d actually pay to see.

Politico’s Stupid Professor Trick

Via Vox Day, Politico’s admission that there is, in fact, a media bubble.  It’s a nice illustration of one of my favorite Stupid Professor Tricks, question flipping.  Politico asks, re: the media’s complete failure to predict Trump’s presidential victory:

What went so wrong? What’s still wrong? To some conservatives, Trump’s surprise win on November 8 simply bore out what they had suspected, that the Democrat-infested press was knowingly in the tank for Clinton all along. The media, in this view, was guilty not just of confirmation bias but of complicity.  But the knowing-bias charge never added up: No news organization ignored the Clinton emails story, and everybody feasted on the damaging John Podesta email cache that WikiLeaks served up buffet-style. Practically speaking, you’re not pushing Clinton to victory if you’re pantsing her and her party to voters almost daily.

Free pro tip: When you’re dealing with self-proclaimed intellectuals, the part immediately preceding the “but” is always the truth.  In this case, as Vox points out, it’s not either/or, it’s both/and.  The media suffered from confirmation bias, yes, but they had plenty of the old fashioned kind of bias, too.  Nobody who watched five seconds of news coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign could help concluding that the media was hopelessly, recklessly in love with Hillary Clinton.  The so-called daily “pantsing” of the Podesta emails was, in reality, increasingly desperate attempts to deny, obfuscate, or explain away the relevance of those emails.  What?  National security?  No no, they were about yoga routines and play dates.  Nothing classified here!!!

But that’s not the most interesting part.  Instead, it’s Politico’s attempt to blame the whole thing on geography.  Media companies, they say, cluster in a few geographic areas — New York, LA — in the same way car companies do.

Car companies didn’t arise in remote regions that needed cars—they arose in Detroit, which already had heavy industry, was near natural resources, boasted a skilled workforce and was home to a network of suppliers that could help car companies thrive.

The question they fail to ask is: Why do media companies, who require few to no physical resources at all, cluster in the coastal enclaves?  As Ace of Spades points out in his take on the piece, by Politico’s own admission more people work online than in person in the news biz.  Online “journalism” can be done anywhere, and almost anywhere has a higher per-dollar quality of life than NY/LA.  Someone who chooses life in a fifth-floor walkup efficiency in Brooklyn over a three-bedroom house in Omaha is willing to pay a huge premium to be among members of his tribe.  Pauline Kael may not have known anyone who voted for Nixon, but the twitterati have never even heard of anyone who knows anyone who voted for Trump.

Media people cluster on the coasts because they’re desperate to be among other members of the cult.  And the purpose of pieces like this one is to assure Politico’s readers — i.e. the media class itself, the one that screwed up so badly — that though they live in an impermeable bubble where stuff like this guaranteed to happen, that’s ok, because they’re just such superior people that they can’t help it:

Is America trapped? Certainly, the media seems to be. It’s hard to imagine an industry willingly accommodating the places with less money, fewer people and less expertise, especially if they sense that niche has already been filled to capacity by Fox. Yet everyone acknowledges that Trump’s election really was a bad miss, and if the media doesn’t figure it out, it will miss the next one, too.

We’d love to get in touch with some of those “real Americans” — you know, if we drag them away from porking their cousins atop a Gadsden Flag at the NASCAR race for a few minutes — but darn it, Fox already has the hillbillies covered.  Ah well, I hear the next season of Girls is really great, and they just opened up a new Irish-Thai-Navajo fusion place down on 44th Street….

Is and Ought, Description and Prescription

Moralizers that they are, Lefties always confuse correlation with causation, description with prescription.  Because “capitalism” correlates with all kinds of bad stuff, they think it causes all that bad stuff.  Eliminating “capitalism,” they think, will eliminate racism, sexism, etc.

That’s the practical problem with Marxism.*  Marxist analyses of history can be very useful.  For instance, it’s now understood that enclosure started the market revolution in England.  By kicking peasants off waste land, the cities got a large, loose labor force that caused businesses to expand.  Meanwhile, back on the farm, the remaining tenants greatly improved their efficiency while producing for distant markets, injecting a whole bunch of cash into the old feudal system.  Combined with contemporary religious developments like Puritanism, with its emphasis on personal discipline, conditions were ideal for the development of industry, with all the social, political, and cultural changes that entailed.

That’s the standard line, and it’s as Marxist as it gets.  That whole “masterless men jump start business in the cities” bit is, in fact, exactly Marx’s “primitive accumulation of capital,” the precursor to real capitalism in the Industrial Age.  The problem is, Marxists don’t stop there.  Marxism is teleological — because all this stuff must produce Capitalism, which must produce Revolution, Marxists write as if the historical actors they describe are actively, consciously doing things like “the primitive accumulation of capital.”  As if there’s a Capitalist manual out there somewhere, which you get along with your secret decoder ring when you send in five box tops and a self-addressed envelope.

Take the Puritans.  They’re ideal Marxist villains — gross hypocrites who thunder from pulpits against luxury and wealth while piling up cash as fast as their grubby little hands can count.  As Puritanism is a bizarre, harsh creed that nobody could possibly live up to, we normies tend to nod along as the Marxists denounce Puritans as evil proto-Capitalists.  But the Puritans really did try to live by their values, for the most part, and they succeeded in a lot of ways — if you ever fall into a time machine and end up in the 17th century, pray that you encounter some Puritans.  They’ll take you in, where nobody else would.  They’re sharp traders, yes, and not much fun, but the same guys who hung witches at Salem also produced the healthiest, wealthiest, most prosperous society in the Western world at the same time.

And that’s where Marxism really goes off the rails.  Because Puritans are such great villains, and because the “Marxist” analysis of the period is the correct one, it’s very tempting to fall into a kind of historian’s fallacy about what’s really going on behind the scenes.  If colonial Massachusetts seemed to be more prosperous than everywhere else, it must be on the backs of some proletariat somewhere (they were, after all, primitively accumulating capital).  Hmmm…. Indians?  No… oh, wait — women!!!  And along come the Salem Witch Trials, which prove how horrible awful no good really bad their society really was.  And so on down the line, such that before long, history is nothing but the search for sticks to beat them with, regardless of how ahistorical.  E.g. Anne Hutchinson, pretty much a nobody in the grand scheme of things, vs. Cotton Mather — 12,800,000 hits to 520,000.  But Anne Hutchinson should matter, damn it, because feminism, so we’ll make her matter.

It takes discipline and a commitment to the historian’s craft to avoid this, which is why nobody bothers anymore.  Marxist critics of the Puritans — guys like Christopher Hill, who never abandoned their communist faith — could do great historical work on the period, because they could stay close to the sources and, as classically trained scholars, could separate description from prescription.  But that generation started dying off in the Sixties, not coincidentally as our Feelz Before Realz culture really got rolling.  The Sixties generation could dimly see the difference between “is” and “ought,” but were having too much fun to insist on it.  Their descendants — whom the Sixties generation taught to value transgression uber alles — consciously rejected it as politically limiting, and so the current Snowflake generation not only can’t tell the difference, but can’t even define the terms.  So, the Puritans?  CisHetPat gun nuts, eeeevil.  A+.

If you really want to save Western culture, start there.  “Is” is not “ought,” DEscription is not PREscription, and just as there’s no necessary relationship between correlation and causation, the recognition that something is not to your liking does not entail the world’s obligation to change it.

 

 

*The philosophical problem, of course, is that it’s muddleheaded Hegelian junk, with Spirit coming down Holy Ghost-style to move History towards the inevitable Revolution, and thence to Utopia.  Free pro tip to any college kids reading this: Any system that requires a whole bunch of Capital Letters to describe is wrong, and usually murderous too.

Flat Affects and Alice Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which leads to the obvious conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Curse of the Participation Trophy

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

Aybabtu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

The Point of It All

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

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

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

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

tl;dr — this right here is modern Leftism:

rect-checap-pd

Yes, But Can You Explain WHY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Andrew Jackson Moment

The “Trail of Tears” is, along with Rosa Parks and the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior, the only thing kids learn about in high school history these days.  They especially don’t learn about the followup:  The Cherokee sued the US government to stop their removal.  Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in favor of the Cherokee.  To which Andrew Jackson supposedly replied, “I see Mr. Marshall has made his ruling.  Now, let us see him enforce it.”

President Trump is rapidly approaching an Andrew Jackson moment.  There are reports of Democrat (naturally) congressmen warning Boston-area illegals of a pending ICE raid.  Los Angeles has vowed to nullify federal law.*  And now Seattle is suing the Trump administration over its threats to end federal funding for “sanctuary cities.” “Sanctuary cities,” you’ll recall, are polities whose ruling class have publicly avowed their intention to violate federal law.  As this is the West Coast, the 9th Circus will of course find for the plaintiffs.

History suggests that President Trump will follow Jackson’s precedent.  A quick look around Weimar America 2017 suggests this will make him the most popular politician in several generations.  It also suggests…. well, you know what it suggests.  The Reds and the Browns are already battling in the streets. It’s inevitable; might as well get on with it.

 

*Hey, remember when that was raaaaaaacist?  Although it’s kinda nice to see Democrats getting back to their roots.