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2 Legit Part 3

The question now becomes: Can an “ethno-state” be made?  I think so.

Eric Hobsbawm, Terence Ranger, and Benedict Anderson were all dirty Commies, but their work on “invented traditions” and “imagined communities” says something profound about human group interaction for all that.  It’s actually pretty easy to weld a disparate group of people into a tight unit, zealous for a collective goal.  Boot camp is an extreme example, but it’s easier than that — think of your high school.  The mascot, the fight song, “our” hated rivals from the school across town, all those invented traditions create an imagined community, loyalty to which can span a lifetime.  Check your Facebook account — how many old high school buddies are in your friends list?  Of them, how many still belong to groups like “Class of ’85 Rocks”?  We laugh at Al Bundy telling everyone who will listen about the time he scored three touchdowns in a game back in high school, but the joke only works because everyone knows someone like that.*

In the grand scheme of things, nothing is more meaningless than a high school football game… but there are people who define their whole lives by it.  Imagine what a flag and a national anthem can do!

See, for example, Japan.  Meiji Japan was an imagined community, built on top of an actually existing community.  The genro took the incohate sense of “Japanese-ness” that existed throughout the realm and gave it symbols — the Charter Oath, the Army, the imperial Rescript on Education, the Rising Sun flag, the Emperor himself.  It was astonishingly effective.  In a generation or two, “loyalty to the Emperor” simply was Japanese-ness, despite the fact that Meiji, like all Emperors stretching back into the remote medieval past, was a powerless figurehead.

Of course, Japan was full of Japanese at the time.  But it can be done elsewhere, with a much more heterogeneous population — e.g. the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Forget the huddled masses at Ellis Island, yearning to be free.  Think about the former Confederacy.  North and South were, in 1861, different enough to get into a shooting war with each other.  By 1871, most of the former CSA states were back in the Union, and by 1881 the country was welded together tighter than it had ever been… such that, by 1898, veterans’ groups on both sides were loudest in demanding war with Spain.  40 years after a war that killed more Americans than all the previous wars combined — with hundreds of thousands of veterans still alive (and the most vital voting block in American politics)! — and it was like it had never happened.  Behold the power of the Lost Cause!

Turning Irish, Jews, Italians, Poles, whatever into “white Americans” is child’s play compared to that.  All you need is baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.

This is the secret to American History that baffles the imagined community of the ivory tower (see footnote below).  Think about the source material.  Europeans are famously fractious — when Groundskeeper Willie says that brothers and sisters are natural enemies, like Englishmen and Scots, or Welshmen and Scots, or Japanese and Scots, or Scots and other Scots (damn Scots! They ruined Scotland!), he’s summing up 19th century Europe…. and we got the worst of the lot (folks who are happy with the way things are going at home don’t emigrate).  The French went to the barricades every time someone invented a new kind of cheese, but despite every conceivable source of friction — national, religious, class, clan — going back hundreds of years, Americans, to the perpetual bewilderment of professional historians, never came close to another revolution.  For every Haymarket Square or Pullman Strike or Pennsylvania Coalfield Strike, there were hundreds of incidents that could’ve spiraled out of control, but didn’t.  Something kept all that in check.

What was it, and can it work again?

 

 

 

*The imagined community “academia” is an ironic meta-example.  Hobsbawm and Ranger were historians, Anderson was a political scientist.  In other words, these were guys who made the study of human interaction their life’s work; they, of all people, should’ve been rock-ribbed conservatives.  But they were Marxists, of course, because they were Professors, and Professors by definition are left wingers.  No matter what their “research” said, in other words, their political commitments to their imagined community always came first — in Hobsbawm’s case, actually admitting, on live TV, that 15-20 million dead would’ve been worth it had Stalin succeeded in creating a real Workers’ Paradise.

 

 

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Random Quick Takes

I got nothin’, so here’s this.

A Honky in Newark.  “Freelance urban sociology,” as we might call it, is pretty interesting.  I grew up in a major Southern metro, so I got to see all the hyphen-Americans without the hyphen — Chinatown, Little Saigon, Caracas del Norte, and, of course, the 100% Black enclaves.  It’s quite a show.  Cruising through the all-Black areas, it’s hard not to sympathize with Liberals’ “poverty causes crime” mantra.  If you haven’t had this experience yourself, watch a season of  The Wire.  Minus a few regional variations — “lake trout,” snow — The Wire’s Baltimore could be any urban Black area in America.  Season 4, especially, is heartbreaking — what chance in hell do those poor kids have?

And yet…. race.  Always race.  Black Americans are just different, in ways that are obvious to everyone when it’s politically convenient to notice them (e.g. in any African-American Studies program, where this is the bedrock premise).  As your second pass around the block will prove, they’re not Africans — Africans-from-Africa tend to be openly contemptuous of American Blacks, especially when forced to live among them — but they’re not White Americans, either, even when forced to act approximately like them.  The fact that they were forced to act that way, for a full century, pushes folks who know their history pretty far into the “race realism” camp.  Culture isn’t genetics, and genetics isn’t culture, but they have a dialectical relationship — American Blacks are the way they are, one is increasingly forced to conclude, because they can’t be any other way.

And this is where the keyboard warriors of the HBD crowd jump into the comments with things like “end the welfare checks, close the freeways, and the problem takes care of itself.”  And you wonder why you get called Nazis.  You do realize you’re talking about genocide, right?

There’s really only one way to get very different groups to coexist peacefully.  It’s incompatible with a whole bunch of seemingly fundamental-to-Americanness stuff like “representative government.”  This is not the world we want, but it’s the world we have.  Give me a realistic plan to keep the peace when the credit bubble bursts — as it must — that doesn’t involve dictatorship, or you haven’t thought this “HBD” thing through.

Revolt of the Revolting.  Speaking of not thinking things through, here’s some half-assed Nietzsche for you:

The entire social justice/aggrotolerance/equalism movement is a revolt by the ugly and freakish against the beautiful and normal. The ideology has no morality nor purpose and exists only to substantiate in political radicalization the aggrieved spitefulness of life’s losers.

True enough.  This is “slave morality,” and ol’ Friedrich wrote about 100,000 words on it.  Which makes us — “the beautiful and normal,” oxymoronic though that is — the ubermenschen, I suppose.  But Nietzsche was obviously wrong about a few important things, starting with that whole “ubermensch” bit.

The transvaluation of values he preached has already happened.  It’s impossible to be more overtly anti-Christian than “Social Justice,” and SocJus — “Cultural Marxism” is far more accurate — is the law of the land.  Nobody turns 19th century European values further on their head than transsexuals, for instance, and look where questioning them gets you.  Nietzsche’s 19th century “slave morality” brought us the prosperity from which “social justice” is an organic outgrowth.  But then again, Nietzsche, a philologist by training, thought Socrates turned the Athenians into a bunch of girly men.  I doubt he’d be much of a Pickup Artist.

Teacher stops having sex with high school sophomore who wore MAGA hat to class.  Satire, I realize, but satire only works when it’s true.  I guess it’s Nietzsche Day here at Rotten Chestnuts, as the feminists, via bargain-bin Nietzsche-wannabe Michel Foucault, actually got this one right.  Sex outside of a monogamous, procreative relationship — let’s call it “marriage,” for convenience — really is exploitative* (the more thoughtful PUAs, like RooshV, admit it**).  As our social dilithium crystals overload and the sexual polarities reverse, you see women acting like men and men acting like women.  Why do grade school teachers, some of them quite attractive, go for their students instead of guys their own age?

Simple: They get off on the power imbalance.  Sex isn’t about the sex act for lots of men — see Elliot Rodger, Alik Minassian, Nicholas Cruz, and suchlike losers.  If all they needed was to get laid, they could’ve hired a professional, who would look exactly like they wanted, do anything they wanted… but none of them even considered it.  Rather, they felt they deserved a certain type of girlfriend.  That type, obviously, is high status — hot, blonde, a cheerleader — which would mean they, Rodger et al, had the goods to merit that type of girl.  Google up pictures of these losers.  They weren’t so fugly that a girlfriend, possibly even an objectively attractive one, was out of reach.  The point wasn’t the girl, much less sex with the girl.  The point was the type of girl, and the validation that provides — i.e. the power imbalance, because, as everyone knows, the head cheerleader only goes out with the quarterback.

Same deal with the reverse-Lolita teachers.  The quarterback may rule the school, but he still has to ask his teacher for permission to go to the bathroom.  If she seduces him, her dominance is complete.  It’s twisted, obviously, but if you assume that modern women act more and more like how they think stereotypical men act, it all makes perfect sense.

UPDATE: Secondary boycotts.  This is the kind of thing I was trying to get at in my Chamber of Commerce Republicans post, below.  I no longer believe it’s possible to fix SJWs.  Their brains are broken, and short of a total amygdala replacement they are forever lost.  But SJWs are actually a small minority.  The professional Left uses them as useful idiots, knowing that the professional “Right” would never dare push back against them.

What I suggest, then — hypothetically, of course, since I disavow all this —  is a kind of “secondary boycott” of the GOP.  All it would take to defeat the Democratic Party is for the Republican Party to stop enabling them.  Stiffen the GOP’s spine, and “antifa” collapses.  But, I’m told, the GOP only does what it does because it’s in the Chamber of Commerce’s pocket.  Well then, let’s stiffen the Chamber of Commerce’s spine a little bit.  We can’t bring any pressure to bear on the big boys in Washington, but your local CofC?  Them we can get to.  If “boycott” — or, heaven forbid, “pressure” — sets your delicate heart aflutter, we could call it a Concentrated Niceness Offensive or a Coordinated Civility Campaign or something.  Just say hi.  A whole bunch of nice, normal Americans saying hi, at their work, at their places of business, on public streets, near their homes…. that would concentrate their minds wonderfully, one would think.  After all, it works like gangbusters on us.

But of course, I would never suggest such a thing.  I disavow it all.

 

 

*Sure it is, if you think it through.  Sex without love — “hookups,” “pickups,” whatever — are purely transactional.  You want it, she wants it, it’s an all-but-capitalistic exchange (this is the starting point for all those feminist arguments about how all heterosexual sex is either prostitution or rape, I realize, but that’s for another day).  “Getting more than you give” is the cornerstone of capitalist exchange.  Ergo — Latin!! — hookups are exploitative.  QED.

**Read your Nietzsche, Roosh.  Then read the Christian critiques of Nietzsche (G.K. Chesterton has a good one).  Then come on over to the Light Side of the Force.

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Selection Bias

If, several hundred years from now, our descendants want to consider giving representative government another go, they’ll need to figure out a better way of picking leaders.

I don’t mean things like “restricting the franchise to stakeholders” and “IQ tests,” though those are great ideas in themselves.  I mean they’ll have to overcome systemic selection bias — a kind of Peter Principle that promotes people not just to their level of incompetence, but based on a completely different set of skills.

Football coaches are a good example.  Chances are good that a brilliant coordinator will flame out as a head coach, simply because the skillsets are so different.  Head coaches have to “coach up” — their day-to-day jobs involve handling the owner, general manager, the media, and his subordinate coaches.  Their relationship to the day-to-day, X’s and O’s of the game that’s played on Sunday is usually pretty tenuous.  Coordinators, on the other hand, “coach down.”  They do the nuts-n-bolts stuff, handle the players and their issues, devise the specific schemes and match-ups.  There’s almost no overlap between those two areas of responsibility.

(The less said of college head coaches who jump to the pros, the better.  College kids aren’t pros, the boosters aren’t the owner, and you don’t get the ridiculous recruiting advantage bigtime college programs do.  Examples are numerous, but my favorite is Steve Spurrier — in his brief tenure with the Redskins, he really did seem to believe his “huck it downfield and let his five-star receivers blow past the opponent’s two-star DBs” would work in the pros.  But everyone in the pros is a former five-star recruit).

Either way, though, there’s simply no relationship between the two skillsets, and thus no way to judge.  A brilliant X’s and O’s guy, who gets the most out of limited athletes, might be great at schmoozing the owner and handling PR…. but then again, he might not.  The point is, there’s no way to tell if or how his X’s and O’s work will translate over to schmoozing and PR, and — given the demands of the business — there’s no way to give him a trial run.  Yet coordinators always get promoted to head coach, because… well, how else are ya gonna do it?

Politics works the same way.  The traditional cursus honorum — state legislature, national legislature, state governor, president — selects for a very different set of skills than those the President needs.  A dull-but-clubbable party man makes a great Senator, but a lousy President.  It takes some real skills to be a state governor, but high among them is the ability to massage entrenched local elites — you have to be wired in, but in a totally different way than a Senator does.

The system, in other words, is set up to produce dull-but-clubbable party men.  They were quite open about this in the 19th century, in case you think I’m making it up.  That’s why “nominating conventions” were real things back then — the wheeling and dealing was brutal, smoky back rooms weren’t just a metaphor, and sometimes it broke down spectacularly and you ended up running Franklin Pierce or someone like that.  This was because the 19th century actually believed in that “federalism” stuff, and the savvy operators avoided national politics for state governorships.

Trump is a huge anomaly who has exposed just how systemically flawed our process is.  We need to figure out how to overcome this selection bias effect… or, at least, our great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren do.

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Anatomy of a “Fact Check”

I saw this making the rounds on social media.  It’s a “fact check” of this:

As you might expect from Snopes.com, it’s as much lying leftwing tripe as the original “news” story.

Starting with the headline:

Is This a Photograph of a Children’s Concentration Camp in the U.S.?

No.  It’s an overcrowded ICE detention center.  The only people calling it a “concentration camp” are the deranged Leftists in the Media (BIRM), who, by calling it a “concentration camp,” are trying to A) keep readers from wondering just why our ICE detention centers are so perilously overcrowded, and B) blame Donald Trump for something.

Debate continues over how temporary holding facility and processing centers for undocumented migrant children should be described.

That’s the very next line — note that we haven’t even gotten to the actual “fact check” yet! — and it’s another lie, because the only “debate” going on is between Leftists who don’t want to admit that picture was taken during the Obama administration, and Leftists who think it’s “fake but accurate” to say it’s Trump’s fault anyway.  Given the overlap in those Venn diagrams, you’ll see more actual debate at the next North Korean Politburo meeting.

This photograph dates from 2014 (during the Obama administration) and was not directly related to a mid-2018 controversy over Trump administration policy of separating children from undocumented migrant parents at the U.S. border.

Emphasis mine, because “not directly related” in this case means “completely unrelated.”  Again, DONALD TRUMP WAS NOT PRESIDENT IN 2014.  He wasn’t even a Presidential candidate in 2014.  In 2014, Donald Trump was just some orange guy with bad hair that all the Smart people in the political class made fun of.  The only relationship between that photo and Donald Trump was that both of them existed on Planet Earth in 2014.  More astute readers (i.e. folks who don’t read Snopes.com) will also have noticed a nifty bias twofer: “Trump administration policy of separating children from undocumented migrant parents.”  For you see, children of undocumented migrant parents are themselves, by definition, undocumented migrants.  Oh, and by the way, are those children in the photo not separated from their parents?  What are they doing there, do you think, all the way back in the Obama administration?

See, Snopes?  Now that’s how you insinuate.  Oh, wait:

They are undocumented. They entered the country illegally. And when they were apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, they were shipped to Nogales from overwhelmed processing facilities in Texas.

So the Obama administration DID separate children from their undocumented migrant parents and hold them in separate facilities.  But they did it in Texas, not “at the U.S. border,” which makes it all better.

Some might argue that the pictured facility was in fact a detention center where children were held in conditions that were woefully inadequate for their numbers, and thus it was concentration camp-like in those aspects:

Yep, that was the problem with Auschwitz, all right: Too many Jews for the available resources.  The self-correcting nature of this resource imbalance is not, apparently, a “concentration camp-like aspect.”

However, others maintained that — despite the difficult conditions — the facility was not comparable to a concentration camp in that the children kept there were treated humanely, were provided with medical care, and were held only until they could be placed with relatives or other caretakers pending adjudication of their cases:

Yes, humane treatment, medical care — free medical care, let us note! — and temporary detention are conspicuously absent from concentration camps.  Forget the “others” who say ICE detention facilities aren’t concentration camps; I’m really curious about those who say they are.  Are we seriously debating what levels of medical care (free medical care!) and humane treatment qualify as “not concentration camp-like?”  Where’s the cutoff, Liberals?  Or maybe it’s just that the guys in Auschwitz had it coming?  Zionism is racism, amirite?

See, Snopes?  Now that’s how you insinuate!

Still, in 2016 the conditions of similar detention facilities were being described as “deplorable”

So “similar” facilities, according to an unnamed somebody two years later, are “deplorable.”  Yes, that totally justifies claiming Donald Trump puts children in cages.

Oh, no, wait: The “deplorable” somebody is named.  It’s Judge Dolly Gee, a Clinton appointee whom Obama promoted to a California federal district court in 2009.  The full Snopes quote is worth quoting in full:

Although [Texas] detention centers had been used long before [2014], that year the Obama administration made them key to its immigration policy. [The center in] Dilley was built that year, and Karnes was greatly expanded. Immigration advocates fought back, and last year in the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, Judge Dolly Gee made a ruling that helped their case. In her decision last July, the judge said the centers were in “deplorable” condition, and that they failed to meet even minimal standards. Gee pointed to a 1997 ruling that determined the government cannot treat a child in detention as it would an adult. She ordered the Obama administration to release the migrant kids from both Texas centers.

That didn’t happen. The Obama administration appealed, and for the past year has tried to figure out how to get around the ruling

Did you follow that?  The detention centers in question — the ones we’re comparing to concentration camps — were the key to the Obama administration’s immigration policy.  Indeed, these “deplorable” centers, which fail to meet even minimal standards, were crucial to Obama’s policy.  So crucial, in fact, that Obama didn’t release the kids — the kids in concentration camps — despite a judge’s direct order to do so.

So, yeah, I guess “debate continues” about whether or not these are “concentration camps.”  Obama‘s concentration camps.  Trump has nothing to do with anything.

Debate continues about how undocumented migrant children who come to the U.S. (whether alone or with their parents) should be dealt with, and where and how they should be housed until their status has been resolved. No approach is likely to satisfy critics at both ends of the political spectrum.

So, you know, the photo’s link to Donald Trump has been completely debunked.  But it’s still his fault.

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Friday Quick Take: Creating an Elite

Leftism wins, in large part, because it makes mediocre people feel good about themselves.

Not just good — superior.  We’ve all observed liberals’ tendency to carry on as if simply repeating today’s talking points somehow makes the repeater an intelligent person.  And it’s systemic.  Saying “blah blah blah intersectionality rape culture” makes one A Smart Person, full stop — there are no degrees, no variations; Liberals are Smart, which means they are limitless intelligences unbound by facts (since, being Smart, only what they agree with counts as a fact).

We need to steal this trick.

A good way to start is by stealing Lenin’s idea of a “vanguard party.”  The Sons of Valley Forge, for instance, can portray themselves as an Elite simply by being members-only.  This avoids the obvious problem of tying Elite status to something measurable, like race or IQ (the Left really screwed the pooch when they started calling themselves “smart,” since IQ is measurable, the tests have 50+ years’ worth of empirical backing, and it’s pretty hard for a dumb white chick to argue that she didn’t do well on the Wechsler because it’s rayciss).

Once the SOVF start throwing their weight around, scoring some successes — just post pictures of professors saying bad stuff about white people conspicuously around campus — the Elite image will self-perpetuate.  As the only effective group in #TheRealResistance, they’ll seem elite by default.  So long as the SOVF make it clear that they only do what they do because it comports with Reality, pretty soon “getting in line with Reality” will seem “smart,” the way parroting Leftist jibbajabba seems “smart” now.

Get your vanguard party going, tightly control the membership rosters — don’t forget to have everyone proudly show off their fight club contusions! — and you’re halfway there.

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Straw Man Judo

Leftism’s greatest trick is making the obvious sound esoteric.  The sum total of modern Liberal Arts “education,” for instance, is asserting that everything is a “social construction.”  Back in the old days they said everything is an economic construction, but the trick is the same.  “___ is a social construction” is just a fancy way of saying “if things were different, they wouldn’t be the same.”

So yes, in that sense, “gender is a social construction” — the ancient Greeks thought it was acceptable to bugger little boys, we think the opposite (though the Left is rapidly coming around), and isn’t diversity wonderful?  If we were raised by ancient Greeks, in ancient Greece, we’d be ancient Greeks.  This seems trivially true (because it is), but if you lard it up with 50 cent jargon and feed it to impressionable youth who’ve never thought about it before — say, in a freshman Humanities seminar — it seems like a big, important new insight.

More importantly, it makes arguments against Leftist positions seem dumb and pigheaded.  “Gender isn’t a social construction?  Oh, so if you were raised by Socrates in Ancient Athens you’d literally still be an American dudebro.  Wow just wow I can’t even.”  And that makes stealing intellectual bases easy, because of course Leftist academics don’t mean “ancient Greeks were ancient Greeks” when they say “gender is a social construction.”  They mean that big, obvious differences between men and women, like physical strength, are “socially constructed” too.  Raise boys like girls, and soon nobody will be able to open a pickle jar.  But since “gender is a social construction” is a beachhead fact, arguing against the latter makes it sound like you’re denying the former.  What, you don’t think the way girls are raised has some kind of impact on their bodies?

We need to learn how to judo flip straw men the way the Left does.  Obviously we can’t use things like “gender is a social construction” — you know, since we’re the Reality people — but it’s certainly possible to word our propositions in such a way that anyone who denies them sounds like a fool.  This is what I was getting at in the photo essay, below.  Why is this bad?

Make them answer.  When they try to retreat into jargon, make them define it.  When they try to imply you’re stupid for not knowing what “intersectionality” means, come back with “no, I didn’t waste 5 years and a hundred fifty thousand dollars on that stuff.  I was out working a job and having sex with attractive partners.  Now answer the question.”  Taunt them.  Mock them.  Be merciless.  What, specifically, is wrong with little kids playing store in the backyard?  Is it that they’re getting too much fresh air?  Have too many friends?  Will build too much self-esteem?

You know what’s “wrong” with that picture, and so do I.  But Chad and Stacey don’t.  Judo flip that straw man.  Make them answer.  Then sit back and watch some soy-addled amygdalae explode.

 

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A Brief Nerd-Enraging Take

I hear that the new Han Solo movie sucks.  Literally sucks, in that Lando Calrissian is revealed to be “pansexual” or some such nonsense.

This is a surprise?

As I’ve written before, the whole point of the new SJWars is to destroy something normies once loved.  But normies loved it, by and large, because it had timeless themes — good versus evil, conflicting loyalties, comradeship.  You can’t tell an actual story without those, which is why the sequels, prequels, and other assorted cash-ins are basically just 3-hour-long video game cut scenes.

Which brings us to Han Solo and his pansexual swinger pal, Lando.  The new SJWars did a pretty good job of ruining all the meaningful parts of the original trilogy, but all the intersectional genderfluidity in the galaxy can’t make Han Solo uncool.  Harrison Ford’s Han is the epitome of “toxic masculinity” – swaggering, entitled, with a classic shitlord smirk that guaranteed he’d pull twelve parsecs of poon no matter how fast he finished the Kessel Run.  But he’s also a real character, who matures to the point where he risks his life coming back to the battle to save Luke during the climactic Death Star attack.

By the end of the movie, in other words, Han Solo is a hero, and we can’t be having that.

I’d bet whatever price Jabba put on his head that the young Han Solo of SJWars is a whiny emo brat who spends most of the movie getting bossed around — and beat up – by girls.  I also fearlessly predict that pansexual Lando is the real hero of the piece, complete with a Chuck Tingle-style “love wins!” sermon.

This is also, of course, why they cast a kid who looks nothing like Harrison Ford:

This isn’t Young Han; it’s Replacement Han, the Han Solo who should’ve been — the one who has a degree in Gender Studies and wouldn’t shoot Greedo first because he’s against gun violence.  He’s Pajamaboy Solo… exactly as intended.

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Why I’m Not a Liberal, Part III

The law of non-contradiction.  I acknowledge it; liberals don’t.

Even back among the Greeks, clever folks noticed that language, truth, and logic don’t always match up.  We can’t talk meaningfully to each other using only symbols, but language is always open to confusion.  So you get things like the Sorites Paradox — how many hairs must one have, or lack, to be considered bald?  At some point, it seems, quantity becomes quality.

Most people who aren’t logicians don’t bother too much over stuff like this, but the implications are interesting.  “Bald” seems to have a definition, right?  But when you try to pin it down, you can’t do it.  Obviously “baldness is the possession of X number of hairs on the head” doesn’t work.  It doesn’t work as a percentage either (“baldness is having 35% less hair than the average man”), because “average” is circumstantial, too — I may have 35% less hair than the members of Motley Crue circa 1986, but 100% more hair than a class of Marine recruits.  You can’t make it work Aristotle-style either (“baldness is the un-actualized potential for having hair”) because again, alopecia etc. aside, how much un-actualized hair potential makes one bald, vs. merely a little short on top?

83% un-actualized hair potential

That’s what trips up even the logical positivists like Ayer (first link).  For a statement to be meaningful, he says, it has to be empirically verifiable.  But even so simple a statement as “Jean-Luc is bald” can’t be empirically verified without an empirically-verifiable definition of “bald.”  And so you have modern philosophers writing off almost the entire history of thought, and declaring the entire human race mad.  Not bad for a few hair follicles, eh?

If even so simple a statement as “Jean-Luc is bald” leads us to conclude that the whole human race is mad, it’s not looking good for the rest of Logic 101.  Remember that “law of non-contradiction” that this post is supposedly about?  Nothing seems more obvious than “one thing can’t be its opposite at the same time,” but does that hold?  Consider Captain Picard up there.  Let’s say he’s taking his Dimoxinil.  At some point he’ll no longer be bald, right?  Unless you can point out the precise moment — number of follicles, percentage of hair potential actualized, whatever — that “bald” becomes “not bald,” it seems that something can be both A and not-A at the same time.

That was Hegel’s great insight.  He called it “dialectic,” and by means of an untranslatable German word (“aufheben“), he proposed that what the universe is really doing is talking to itself.  It — the universe– is working out its seeming “contradictions” in a process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis.  Jean-Luc’s baldness (thesis) is aufhebening his hair-havingness (antithesis) and, through the agency of Dimoxinil, is producing synthesis.

Grant that, and you’re halfway to Marxism.  Add “envy,” “anger,” and “eagerness to murder people who disagree with you” and you’re all the way there.  Which is why I don’t do it — A is A, not-A is not-A, and that’s just the way it is.

I hope we all can see the appeal of Hegelianism, though, from this little exercise.  Not only does “dialectic” give English-accented French starship captains their hair back, it’s tailor-made for the Liberal “debate” style.  As Morgan demonstrates here, when Liberals are caught in a contradiction, they don’t concede the point.  They can’t, because they are Smart and you are Dumb and, just as paper always beats rock, Smart always beats Dumb.  So they go back and try to redefine their premises, Marx-style:  “Straw man! I never said cause a huge explosion, I merely suggested using this cigarette lighter to see if the gas tank is empty.” “Straw man! I didn’t say kill the puppy, I just suggested throwing it off this cliff.”

You can’t prove Dimoxinil gave Captain Picard his hair back, because you can’t even define “bald!”  Therefore Big Pharma is evil and their profits should be taxed 100%.  Vote Hillary.  Denying the law of non-contradiction, then, is an almost limitless supply of virtue fixes.*

Almost always.  But there always comes a time when Reality rears its ugly head and you need the law of non-contradiction.  For instance, Liberals’ “_____ is just a social construction!” formula is the most common denial of the law of non-contradiction, and in the TERF war it has really come around to bite them in the ass.  A “male lesbian” is a contradiction in terms, you say?  Obviously you need a refresher course in dialectics, comrade.  Off to Siberia with you — say hi to the Alt-Right guys in the next barracks for me!

Not that this will ever bother them in the slightest.  They take their cues from the Master himself:

As to the Delhi affair [i.e. the 1857 Indian Mutiny], it seems to me that the English ought to begin their retreat as soon as the rainy season has set in in real earnest. Being obliged for the present to hold the fort for you as the Tribune’s military correspondent I have taken it upon myself to put this forward….It’s possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way.

But I’m lazy, so I prefer not to have to weasel out of stuff all the time (especially when it’s a product of my own shortsighted hubris).  The law of non-contradiction helps me avoid that, which is why I subscribe to it.  Which makes me a non-Liberal.

 

 

*The drug in question is DOPE-amine.  Get it?  [rimshot].

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What Comes After Science?

Karl Marx’s greatest trick was gussying up his bargain-bin, Hegel-lite, junk philosophy as “science.”  With the stroke of a pen, grave character defects were transformed into high virtues — envy and hatred were now just a dispassionate analysis of the dialectical materialist Forces of History, and ever since, Leftists have claimed that their every opinion is a scientific fact.  They’re not just spouting whatever bullshit will let them get their momentary virtue fix; they’re telling it like it is.

The problem is, of course, science doesn’t work like that… and not even liberals can deny it anymore.  So what comes next?  They’re not going to give up self-congratulation — that smugly superior smirk is the only thing holding their faces together.  They’ll have to find some new way to be comprehensively Better Than Us.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.  They can’t, for example, turn back the clock to the 18th century and go all Romantic on us.  That whole Sorrows of Young Werther bit might seem to fit the bill, but remember: The Left have used the cover of science to impose their preferences on us. Liberal jurisprudence — just to take one of the more important examples — depends entirely on the notion that Lefty’s whims du jour are objectively true.  The landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, for instance, overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine, not on Constitutional grounds — Plessy v. Ferguson was pretty tightly argued — but because segregation hurt Black kids’ self-esteeeeeeeem.  I wish I were kidding.  (Brown v. Board was decided in 1954, lest you think this “self-esteem” junk is new).

So what’s next?  We’ve been instructed by all the institutions that matter — courts, media, academia — for over a century that science demands this, the evidence demands that, you’re a bitter troglodyte science-hating fundie if you don’t support the other thing.  Pretty soon — the over/under is July 2019 — we’re going to be told by all the institutions that matter that science itself is irreparably rayciss, sexiss, etc. (this is already happening, of course; it just hasn’t hit critical mass yet).  What’s going to be the new thing we’re supposed to bow down to?

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Why Only Seven Readers? – UPDATED

New reader Frip asked

I notice you’ve been posting since 2012. Yet you’ve only got a handful of commenters. I hope you’re more popular than an audience of 7. If not, can you explain why? Or link me to a post where you discuss it?

I took a stab at an answer back there.  Since I’ve been thinking a lot about New New Media lately, though, I thought I’d give it a more thorough try here.  What does it take to be a big blogger these days (“big” being “enough to make a living at it, if so inclined”)?

I assume that we have seven (at one point it was nine!) readers, first and foremost, because of the free market.  Speaking only for myself (Morgan doesn’t post much here anymore, because his own site probably verges on “big” as we’ve defined it), I just don’t bring that much to the table.  This isn’t false modesty — I rite good and have a few things to say, but those aren’t rare commodities.  They seemed to be back in the internet’s Wild West days, when we were all on AOL dial-up, but they’re not.  As a zillion wannabe-Bill Simmonses found out in the mid-90s, only the trailblazers cash in doing what lots of people can do.  Lots of people can snark and over-share and generally carry on like 16 year old girls trapped in 40 year old men’s bodies when it comes to sports… and politics works that way too.

To make a go of it now, one must really stand out.  Short of coming up with a whole new way to look at things, the only way to stand out now is to have a shtick…. and that, too, is a free market failing of mine, because most of the shticks that work completely baffle me.  Vox Day, for instance, has his “I am the greatest genius in human history” act.  He also rites good and has things to say, but it’s the “I am an IQ god!” routine that put him over the top, and has helped him build a really robust cult of personality.  I read his site, and I’ve learned a lot from him, but one of the main things I’ve learned is: I suck at trend-spotting.  I stumbled onto his site; had someone described it to me, I would’ve sworn a blood oath to stay as far away as possible.  He has sixty zillion readers; we have seven.

But even assuming I had a winning shtick handed to me I still couldn’t do it, because I’m lazy.  Forget coming up with shtick-compatible content; the sheer grind of shtick maintenance would keep me from doing it.  Milo had (has? is he still around?) a great shtick that anyone could pull off: The Gay Conservative.  It’s such a winner that it has worked twice, which is unheard of (the Original Gay Conservative, of course, was Andrew Sullivan).  But being gay is impossible for a lazy man, because it’s 24/7 — every homosexual of my acquaintance (and please remember that I spent long years in academia) can’t have a cup of coffee without wondering if this venti soy frappuccino is queer enough to be seen drinking.  (And yes, for the record, I’m aware I just suggested I’m only straight thanks to my Harper Lee-esque work ethic).

These all combine into a perfect storm of mediocrity.  Even assuming I had the goods to compete if I had a shtick (doubtful, but let’s stipulate), I don’t have the drive.  Stacy McCain has a guide to how to get a million hits on your blog.  Read it, and you’ll notice two things: 1) it’s a lot like this article, but much better, and 2) it’s exhausting.  Seriously, I get exhausted just reading that shit, and it was written before social media really took off.  Just tweeting, facebooking, and on-other-blogs-commenting is probably a 40 hour a week gig for established big leaguers (Ace of Spades reportedly spends up to 6 hours a day getting into Twitter slap fights with just Jake Tapper); it’s probably intern year-level time consuming for a wannabe.

The main thing driving blog fame, then, seems to be the main thing that drives all other kinds of fame: The sheer, grind-it-out, whatever-it-takes, leather-assed (and cast-iron-bladdered) drive to be famous.  You’ve got to have enough ego in the game to not only play the game, but make “playing the game” your only compensation.  Just as many doctors really make about $6.50 an hour when you divide their yearly salary by all the time they spend doing paperwork, so bloggers, even the relatively well-compensated ones, must make well below minimum wage….

…. and at that point it’s a chicken-and-egg problem.  The #1 characteristic of famous people, both online and IRL, is that they’re built in such a way that “becoming famous” seems like the only logical career move.  The only way you can survive 15 years waiting tables in Hollywood, starving in a garret in Paris, playing 10 years in the Minors, etc. is by being built to survive it.  That’s why one of the most tragic things you’ll ever see is someone who thinks he wants to be famous, gets there, and finds out he’s not cut out for it, because the same personal constitution that lets you get famous is the only thing that lets you stay famous.

(this, from the 2.6 seconds of reading I’ve done on it, seems to be Jordan Peterson’s problem).

UPDATE 5/10/18:  In case my bantering, tongue-in-cheek tone didn’t quite convey it, I’m not actually interested in why Rotten Chestnuts in general, or my part of it in particular, isn’t more popular.

Some are born with big blog audiences, some achieve big blog audiences, and some have big blog audiences thrust upon them.  1) and 3) are psychologically interesting, but unless they’re unusually frank about how this is going for them (e.g. Jordan Peterson, at least in the 2.3 seconds I spent reading up on him), we probably can’t infer too many general rules from their experience.  2) is interesting, and worth looking at, as it can tell us some things about the direction and velocity of the culture.  But just because something is interesting to someone doesn’t mean he wants to be that something — I find Leftists fascinating, obviously, but I sure as hell would never want to be one.

For the record, here are the main reasons I don’t want to be blog-famous:

First, I’m lazy.  Like, lion-on-the-veldt-in-high-summer-level lazy — I only move when I have to.  The main component of blog fame seems to be the same main component as every other kind of fame: the sheer iron-bladdered, leather-assed willingness to do what it takes to be famous.  I’m not wired that way, and I never have been.  In college, for instance, I had an opportunity to do some sportswriting for the local rag.  I jumped at the chance, thinking hey, I love sports, I know a lot about them, and I rite good….

And then I realized what it entailed.  You mean I have to have an opinion — on deadline — on, like, everything?  I don’t care why this NFL guy can’t stay healthy (too many steroids), why that MLB guy isn’t hitting as many home runs (not enough steroids), or why nobody cares about the WNBA (wrong kind of steroids).  I just want to watch the games, and comment on whatever aspect of them — if any! — happens to strike my fancy at the time.  Substitute “politics” for “sportswriting” and that’s what I do now.  The other way is you know, a job.  I already have a job; I’m way too lazy to do another.

Second, I spent a lot of years in and around the Ed Biz.  Every class you teach comes with a built-in amen chorus.  It’s easy to think you’re the greatest professor in the world when everyone tells you what you want to hear all the time.  Wow, these students are really getting it!  Alas, what they’re really getting is a copy of your old exam from their sorority sisters.  Make ’em fill out a Social Justice Mad Lib for the final exam (and this is 100% of a modern “liberal arts” education), and it’s easy to convince yourself that you’re changing the world.  This is why it baffles me that people are baffled by Jordan Peterson: If everyone you meet expects you to be some kind of guru, you start acting like you’re some kind of guru.  I am not a guru, and have no desire to be a guru, and if people started treating me like one (which, if you teach long enough, will happen at least once to all but the dullest educator), I’d be forced to spend almost all of my time de-guru-fying myself.  And see above — I’m waaaay too fucking lazy for that.

Finally, there are the weirdos.  In real life, even D-list never-weres get their psycho stalkers, and since the Internet is much, much crazier than real life, cyber-stalkers are 100 times worse.  Look at what happened to poor Jeff Goldstein.  Unless you’re the type of guy who actually enjoys beating down trolls, it’s just not worth it.  If the 9th reader (or whatever we’re up to now) turns out to be a lunatic, I’ll ban him with a clean conscience.  If we were bigger, I’d have to worry about “echo chambers” etc.

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