What’s the State FOR?

In the great ancient despotisms, political philosophy was a subset of metaphysics — Pharaoh is Pharaoh because his correct performance of the rituals keeps heaven and earth in balance.  In Classical times, political philosophy was a subset of ethics — the state exists to promote virtue in its citizens.  In modern times, political philosophy has been divorced from ethics, metaphysics, and everything else.  It started with Hobbes, and no one since has said it better:

[I]n the first place I put for a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death. And the cause of this is not always that a man hopes for a more intensive delight than he has already attained to, or that he cannot be content with a moderate power; but because he cannot assure the power and means to live well which he hath present, without the acquisition of more.

That’s it.  That’s what people are.  Nothing metaphysical there; it’s pure anthropology.  No ethics, either — maybe man shouldn’t desire power after power, but we do.  Any social arrangement that doesn’t acknowledge this brute fact about Man is doomed to fail sooner or later.

From this, Hobbes argues that it’s only the fear of shameful death which causes us to moderate — not lose — our unceasing desire for power after power.  Fear of shameful death is why we band together under a king, surrendering some of our natural rights in return for protection.  This is, of course, the social contract, and it’s the basis of all Liberal* political philosophy.

More precisely, arguing against Hobbes’s version of it is the basis of modern political philosophy.  Because Hobbes’s social contract leads to the Leviathan, the most absolute monarch that could ever be.  Hobbes’s philosophy is complex, subtle, and not always entirely coherent, but I’m not doing the old man too much injustice when I say that it boils down to: “Peace at any price.”  Hobbes was born in 1588, the year of the Armada.  He was already old by the outbreak of the English Civil Wars, and he lived to see both the Protectorate and the Restoration.  He witnessed every horror political arguments can produce — the English Civil War was, on some estimates, proportionally as devastating as World War I.  “Peace at any price” makes sense after that.

But it doesn’t make sense to an easier generation, like John Locke’s.  Locke was born in 1632, just as the troubles were gearing up, and the wars didn’t affect him much (though his father was a Parliamentarian cavalry commander in the early stages; Locke himself was in school for most of it).  The great political event of his early manhood wasn’t the Civil War, but the Restoration, when the English people actually voted to hand some of their liberties back to the King.  This was unprecedented, and Locke can be forgiven his optimism — he saw, or seemed to see, the social contract being renegotiated right in front of him.  If men desired only power after power, like Hobbes said, General Monck and the rest would’ve restarted the Civil Wars.  Instead, they peacefully handed the crown to Charles II.

From this, Locke concluded that the state’s purpose isn’t “peace at any price,” but “the protection of citizens’ life, liberty, and property.”  The social contract is broken, he argued, if the King fails in these.

Locke’s version of the social contract seemed to be confirmed when the Colonials went to war with it in 1776.  Using all previous human history as our guide, we’d expect the Patriots’ victory to be followed by a great slaughter — mass execution of Tories, communities turning on one another to settle old grievances while the swords were still drawn.  There’d be no need for a Newburgh Conspiracy, as Washington would’ve already had Congress at gunpoint.  At any other time, in any other place, King George III would’ve been swapped out for King George I.  But that didn’t happen, and since America didn’t do half-bad in the next two centuries, that seems to confirm John Locke’s version of the social contract.

But it’s wrong for all that.  American Exceptionalism is real.  Even the American Revolution’s second string were men of exceptional ability and high principle.  George Washington and (maybe) George Monck are the only two people I know who have had a real opportunity to crown themselves, and turned it down.  Locke’s version of the social contract works, but only in a rough frontier society whose minor league leaders are themselves world class.  Regression to the mean kicks in within a single generation — see the Hartford Convention for details.

Given all that, what is to be done?

Put as simply and plainly as I can: The Second Civil War lots of folks in Our Thing seem to be rooting for will be horrible beyond imagining.  It will be World War III.  What, you think the rest of the world is just going to watch it on pay-per-view?  What happens when the New Confederacy invites Vladimir Putin to help out in their struggle against Holy New England?  Vlad might turn them down — he’ll be too busy overrunning completely defenseless Europe — but the ChiComs will surely come to the aid of their fraternal socialist brothers in the People’s Republic of NorCal, slugging it out with Nuevo Nuevo Mexico.  The minute shots are fired in Washington, the Mullahs will nuke Tel Aviv.  The Korean peninsula will get reunified the hard way.  India and Pakistan will finally settle their grudge.

Civil War 2.0 is the end of the fucking world.

We need to take a long hard look at Hobbes.  Monarchy’s dead, but the fuhrerprinzip is alive and well.  Some kind of Austro-Hungarian Empire thing seems to be the way to go, with the Boss presiding over a “Congress” of all the Peoples.  It’ll be a police state, sure, but it sure beats a radioactive wasteland.  Anyone got a better idea?

 

 

 

*in both senses, Classical and SJW.  It’s one of the many unremarked ironies of SJWism that even as they’re preaching ___ supremacy (trannie, Latinx, whatever), they still somehow assume that the social contract holds.  “Fuck off and die, but leave your wallet… ‘cuz we voted!
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Our Struggle

As Z Man notes here, one of the main ways the Left wins is by peddling comforting fantasies:

The truth is, people are motivated by a quest for grace. Humans want to believe the universe cares for them and it has a purpose for their lives. Therefore they seek out some avenue to reach that state of grace, to give purpose to their lives….Our ruling elites believe they are on the side of history, so the results of their actions must be the will of the heavens.

I agree, but it misses something important: Struggle.  That’s the “avenue to reach that state of grace,” and to prove it, I give you the Puritans:

  • Puritans knew Grace is a free gift of God — nothing you do can possibly earn it.
  • And yet, the Puritan work ethic is so famous it’s a cliche.

Max Weber wrote a big important book about it, arguing that the Puritan work ethic was massive displacement activity — you cannot know if you are Saved, but since God commands you to make your way in this world, the better you make your way in the world, the more likely it is that you are Saved.

The Left, as we all know, are the new Puritans, and this is the psychology behind everything they do.  Why else would the Left, who have been in near-total control of our culture for more than half a century, still carry on as if they’re a tiny, persecuted minority?  It’s a perfectly inverse relationship: The more control the Left has, the louder they squawk about how “dangerous” they are for “speaking truth to power.”  The Media, Hollywood, academia, they all carry on like Donald Trump is about to throw them to the lions, even though none of them has ever met anyone to the right of Bernie Sanders.

Displacement activity also accounts for the neverending purity spirals.  Only the #Wokest shall be saved.  They’ll never be happy, because their salvation is not in this world, and since they’re all atheists, their salvation isn’t in the next world, either.  Hence the constant, frantic search for something, anything, at which to be offended.  It’s the only thing that muffles the gnawing uncertainty that they aren’t saved, that they’re not the #wokest, that they have some unexamined, un-eradicated “privilege” that will keep them out of polyamorous genderfluid Heaven (aka the UC Berkeley faculty lounge).  It’s the struggle that gives life meaning.

See also George Orwell, the writer whose deep and subtle insight into the Leftist mind baffled refugees from the Soviet Union.  How, they asked, could a man who never lived under Stalin depict its mental world so perfectly, as Orwell did in 1984?  Orwell reviewed Mein Kampf in 1940.  It’s worth quoting at length:

[Hitler] has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do.

Which is why, 80 years later, we’ve simply ditched the tin pacifists and decided to “get in their faces.”  Vicious masked thugs shouting down speakers and beating up their supporters in the name of “free speech,” while calling themselves “anti-fascists,” wouldn’t surprise Orwell in the slightest.  He continues:

Hitler…knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life…. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation “Greatest happiness of the greatest number” is a good slogan, but at this moment “Better an end with horror than a horror without end” is a winner.

The last line is especially worth emphasizing.  Lots of folks in Our Thing are about ready to say “fuck it” and start throwing punches.  The Left is already there, and please note: It’s the most mollycoddled Leftists of all who are doing it.  The guy who tried to brain a Trump supporter with a bike lock was a professor, and indeed the “Antifa” are, almost to a man woman persyn dragonkin being are still, somehow, in college.  I spent many years in and around academia, so please believe me when I tell you: There is no nicer, safer, cushier existence than that found on a college campus.  There never has been, not once, not in all human history.  The great Ozymandias would trade half his empire for an air conditioned dorm room and all-you-can-eat sushi at the student union; he’d trade the other half for a MacBook Pro and free wifi.

If your material conditions reflect the state of your soul, in other words, college folk are all saints awaiting assumption.  And yet, they’re the unhappiest critters in captivity.  They’re only “happy” when they’re complaining about something, because life is a struggle.

We need to capitalize on this.  We need to set a goal, seemingly tangible but forever out of reach, that will allow us to fight the struggle, and acknowledge that it IS a struggle.  I’d suggest something like “the New Traditionalism” or something.  Make it community-centric, with the goal of getting your community back to the way it was in the 1950s (you can get the incorrigible Liberals on board by putting them on a committee to “study” some ways to avoid re-implementing Jim Crow.  All you need is a committee chairman that makes sure their “recommendations” always end up in the circular file, while the rest of the leadership team gets busy re-implementing Jim Crow).  Since getting back to an actual religious view of life is impossible without a theocracy, purity spirals are going to have to be a feature, not a bug.  Use them — if you’re going to get them anyway, it’s much better to have “Johnny isn’t pro-American enough!” than “Johnny didn’t call me by this week’s pronoun.”

Get völkisch with it.  What’s the worst that could happen?

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A Thought Experiment

I proposed this in the comments to the previous thread, but I think it’s fun enough to put above the fold.  It’s a thought experiment.  Pitch your favorite Liberal the following scenario:

You rub the magic lamp and the genie pops out.  He offers you a deal: He’ll make the world perfectly Socially Just — no war, no racism, no homophobia, no White Privilege, no toxic masculinity, no body shaming, no nothing — but with the caveat that you yourself get absolutely no credit.  You’ll have to live every moment of every day in your perfect Worker’s Paradise, knowing you made it happen, but you’re unable to tell anyone.  Do you take the deal?

How many Liberals do you think would say yes?  Even though lying costs them nothing, how long do you think they’ll have to squirm before finally answering?

Try it!  It should be a hoot.  Let us know how it works out in the comments.

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Putin Destroyed Facebook?

So this fellow claims.* It’s an interesting idea that’s worth thinking about.  The tl;dr version is: Liberals are convinced Putin rigged the election for Trump.  The Russians used Facebook to do it, especially Facebook’s data-mining and its refusal to filter ad buys and news feeds.  Therefore, in anger, liberals are dropping off Facebook, and indeed, dropping off social media altogether and fleeing to MSNBC.

It’s an interesting claim.  There are countervailing facts, such as: Facebook data-mining isn’t new info; it was cool and edgy and hip when Obama did it, and all the Liberals freaking out over Cambridge Analytica were licking Obama’s shoes for doing the same thing.  However, as we know, “facts” and “Liberals” have a garlic-to-vampires relationship; certainly the cognitive dissonance of “it’s only bad when your guy does it!” has never been known to bother them.  So let’s set that aside.

The real value of a claim like this is that it’s testable.  The Left is clearly on the road to Damascus.  They’re going to be hit with a blinding insight soon, and whichever way the herd stampedes will determine the course of American political life for the next generation or two.  So what will it be?  A more insular, MSNBC-addicted Left will look a lot different from the fightin’ fightin’ keyboard warriors of the nutroots we’ve come to know and love these last few decades.

I just can’t see the Left abandoning social media.  They’re rabbits.  Virtue-signaling is all they do.  TV is a completely passive medium — even if you watch it with a loaded .44 by your side, Elvis-style, it’s not interactive.  Unless they’re going to go back to festooning their cars with 77 bumper stickers like they did back in the 80s, I can’t see them logging off social media entirely.

Instead, I see them embracing Internet elitism.  The facts have a liberal bias, right?  I can see them setting up Liberalbook and… well, “Twitter” works too well as a descriptor of their scatterbrained “thought” process, so they’ll probably keep that, but they’ll come up with something.  So long as it makes a big show of being “objective” — they’re science’s BFFs, after all — while filtering out all the badthink, it’ll be all good.

But we’ll see.  Keep an eye out.

 

 

*This guy used to be a “Game” blogger, so while I find a lot of his sociological analysis quite useful (check the archives!), he has a tendency to go off the rails.  (E.g. he blackpilled himself on Trump and is now convinced that a national-populist messiah is just over the hill…. Bernie Sanders.  No, really).
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Bursting the Academic Bubble

When the Chinese historians write the story of America’s collapse, one of the most baffling, infuriating chapters will be the one on the dissolution of the Academy.

It’s an easy story to tell.  Back in the early Sixties, parents believed in the value of education.  They saw it as a sure ticket to a middle class life.  Having had some college themselves thanks to the GI Bill, they figured this was the way for their kids to skip the years of dues-paying toil and go right to middle management.  The kids went along with it, because it got them out of the house.  Then, in the later Sixties, being in school was a good way to dodge the draft, so the undergraduate population boomed.

Say’s Law kicked in.  The supply of undergraduates created a massive demand for professors to teach them, with the inevitable massive drop in the quality of the professors crash-trained to fill the vacancies.  Real academic work is hard.  Yes, even in the “soft” disciplines.  In the field I’m most familiar with, History, you need, at minimum, a working knowledge of several modern languages, basic economics, statistics, a bit of military history, a horse-sense grasp of psychology, plus at least some training in pedagogy (how to teach).  And the further back your subject goes in time, the longer the list gets.  A medievalist, for example, needs at least reading fluency in four or five languages, both the modern tongues and their medieval equivalents, plus of course Latin (Classical, Medieval, and Church, which could be quite different), and then there’s palaeography (how to read old handwriting), epigraphy (how to read inscriptions), at least basic art history, a thorough knowledge of the Bible in all its various versions…

Or, at least, it used to.*  Thanks to skyrocketing undergrad populations, universities had no choice — they had to slam half-trained people through.  Which might have been survivable, had those half-trained people been anything other than Baby Boomers.  A little learning is a dangerous thing, as Jay-Z said, and when you combine that little learning with a burning desire to change the world….

Academic standards went from bad to diverse.  If there was no way to maintain quality standards training White kids with decent undergraduate educations (as, at least, the first generation of Boomer professors had), there sure as hell wasn’t any way to do it when the Diversity started flooding in.  And so the typical undergraduate Humanities requirements, which back in the days were English, History, and Philosophy, got watered down and transformed — Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, American Studies, Leisure Studies (the latter two, God help us all, are 100% real).  So long as you could knock together a thesis that sounded profound while managing not to piss in the punch bowl at faculty mixers, you were in.

Which resulted in “scholarship” that looks like this:

Within quantum mechanics, the science of the body in motion, the intricacies of the interiorities of mnemonic time – no longer an arrow – are being realized in the (traditionally) feminized shape of the body of the matrix.

But there’s hope, my droogs, even at this late hour.  The academic bubble is nearer to popping than anyone thinks.  There are three ways the Trump administration could burst it, two of them implementable (I think) simply by executive order.  They are:

Repeal Griggs v. Duke Power.  That might take a Supreme Court decision, but maybe not.  Griggs said it’s rayciss to give potential employees IQ tests.  It might be possible to set up some kind of nationwide testing scheme — hell, use the SAT — that would satisfy the “or equivalent” portion of “college degree or equivalent” (which is the main dodge employers use to get around Griggs now).

Push for trade schools.  Trump has already made some noises on this front, I seem to recall.  Electricians, plumbers, machinists, masons, artisans of all stripes… these guys make nice middle class salaries, and they can’t be outsourced.  Trump could use the bully pulpit to rail against this totally unfounded idea that only slack-jawed yokels go into the trades.  It’s an easy sell — we’ve all been in a situation, I’m willing to wager, where we said “damn, if only we had a mechanic here!”  I’d wager an equal amount that no one, anywhere, at any time in history, has said “if only we had someone with a BA in Intersectional Latinx Poetry!”

End student visas.  Saving the easiest — and most fun! — for last.  Higher ed’s dirtiest little secret is that they now rely almost entirely on foreign students paying full freight.  Did you hear the one about the Chinese kids at the University of Iowa getting busted for plagiarism, using ringers to take their exams (including Engrish proficiency exams), etc.?  If you didn’t, take a look.  I can promise you one thing: Those were not the sharpest knives in the drawer, either in Shandong or in Iowa City, because I guarantee you: that kind of thing happens at every single large-ish university in the nation.  How could it be otherwise?  I went to college back at the dawn of the Clinton Era, at a third-rate public school in one of America’s least intellectual states, and even we joked that you’d better brush up on your Mandarin if you hoped to pass chem lab.  Eliminate student visas, and you’d be down to Harvard, Yale, and maybe Ole Miss (as a bonus, the BCS bowl games would be a lot more interesting).

None of these will ever happen, of course, but keep an eye out for sharp fluctuations in the yuan.  Oh, and confidential to the NSA goon assigned to monitor this corner of the Internet: All those Chinese kids who jam around campus in their souped-up rice rockets with weird option packages they don’t sell in North America?  Y’all know those are all second sons of ChiCom Party apparatchiks, right?  If you’re worried about international tensions on the Pacific Rim, keep an eye on the ping pong tables at the student union.  If they’re suddenly deserted, head for the fallout shelters.

 

*I’m certainly not exempting myself from this.  Whatever little bit I know about the items on that list comes largely from my own outside reading.  The institution — by no means bad, but far from elite — that awarded me a PhD wouldn’t have admitted me as an undergrad in 1962.

 

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The Unbearable Self-Righteousness of Being

An interesting discussion with reader WOPR about whether or not Leftism is a religion.  I argued that it is, because, under the worst-of-all-worlds conditions of my thought experiment, it fulfilled religion’s one and only function of social control.  WOPR disagreed:

I agree it is religious in many aspects. However, I think why you see it always devolve into purity spirals with orgies of violence is there is no future for the adherents. Sure, they’re on the Right Side of History. But the disillusionment that always occurs with it is due to there being no final arbiter(s). That guy using the system to enrich himself is going to die just like you, rot in the grave just like you, except for now he’s going to be far better off in the here and now. If you’re a Hindu, you at least know the guy is coming back far down the chain of life. A Christian and you know punishment is possible. Any other religion has judgments against those who abused their time on this earth.

So in answering your question, no Cultural Marxism can’t fulfill the role of an actual religion for more than a generation. Even the generation espousing it quickly tires of the false religion.

I’ve said a lot of that myself, especially the part about Leftism being fairly obvious nihilism.  But it seems to take considerably longer than a single generation for this pseudo-religion to die.  See, for example, the USSR — Stalin and Lenin certainly never tired of the false religion, and while we might attribute that to their being the head honchos, it’s clear that the next generation of New Soviet Men were even more fanatical than the Revolutionary generation.  Even Khrushchev, he of the famous “Secret Speech,” was a doctrinaire Communist until his death — he thought Stalin’s cult of personality was a perversion of Communism, not the inevitable result.

Personal experience, too, argues against this.  Anecdotes aren’t data, of course, but I spent the better part of two decades in academia — I’ve got lots of anecdotes.  Professional historians, of all people, should recognize that Marxism is comically false… and yet, every professional historian I’ve ever met has been a Marxist of some flavor.  If you haven’t been on campus for a while, take a little sightseeing tour.  Leftism gives these people’s lives meaning.  They’re the kind of faithful congregation most ministers can only dream of.

This seems to apply outside the ivory tower, too.  Morgan is always writing about dear Aunt Petunia, the sweet old lady who only wants everyone to get along at Thanksgiving dinner… then goes out and votes for the most vicious, divisive, class warfare-preaching candidate around, because wouldn’t it be just so nice if America finally had a Black/Woman/whatever President?  See also: at least half the country, who really did seem to believe, with all their hearts and souls, that voting for the Magic Negro in 2008 would absolve America of racism.  Or go down to the feed store anywhere in Rural America — you’ll find scads of old men who vote Democrat because Pappy voted Democrat, and Great-Grandpappy voted Democrat, all because that nice Mr. Roosevelt saved the farm from the Revenuers.

It doesn’t have to go the whole James Frazer route to be a religion, in other words.  All you need is a set of unquestioned — and unquestionable! — assumptions about the nature of the world, combined with a few ritual gestures that give you some goodfeelz and a method of penance (in case you carry on like pretty much every king who got named “most Christian,” defensor fidei, etc.  Henry VIII got ’em both before breaking away from Rome; good thing he could absolve himself of all the murder, torture, theft, adultery, etc.).  Leftism fits the bill, and it has for at least a century and a half.

That being the case, we should study the Leftist religion to figure out how to impose a new public morality.  Two Minutes’ Hates work great in college towns, but alas, we can’t all drop everything to go march around in our pussy hats at a moment’s notice.  We need to find some other way to puff ourselves up with self-righteousness, which is the true force against which mountains cannot stand.  The Left has had good results with dietary restrictions; I’d start there.  How about sugar?  Plus you lose weight, which reinforces the purity spiral (purity spirals being a feature, not a bug, of man-made religions)….

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Religious, Not Spiritual

I went to college back at the beginning of the Clinton Era,* at a third-rate public school in one of our less intellectual states.  At the time I thought it far beneath me, but now I thank the Lord for it.  Because it was third-rate, you see, none of the hotshot academics from the “good” schools wanted to teach there… which meant that the minor-leaguers who made up the faculty, having received traditional educations themselves, actually believed in paideia (though, of course, they couldn’t call it that).  I therefore got the closest thing to a traditional college education on offer in that time and place.

From this I learned the most important lesson one can ever learn: It has all been done before.  Humanity has had all of about five Big Ideas since we stopped swinging in trees, and as the most recent one was back in the Renaissance, we’ve had plenty of time to chew over the implications.  You could fill a library with examples, but as this is the Internet, the example of atheism should suffice.  Every single possible argument against revealed religion has been mooted, and answered, long ago (hell, Julian the Apostate offered up most of the “arguments” the neckbearded fedora crowd think are so clever in the 300s CE).  You’re welcome to dispute, say, Thomas Aquinas on the problem of evil, but what you can’t do is claim it hasn’t been addressed by Christendom’s best and brightest.

The fact is, no human society has ever existed without a transcendent moral order backstopping it.  It’s just part of the human firmware.  Leaving aside as unanswerable the question of which, if any, of those moral orders are true, the only question becomes: will the transcendent moral order of our society look like this, or will it look like that?  The only criterion is usefulness: Does the transcendent moral order we choose help our society flourish, or does it speed our descent into anarchy?

It’s clear that ours, whatever you choose to call it — “Cultural Marxism” will serve — has failed the utility test, but I wonder if that’s a problem with the theory or the practice.  Let’s give the atheists their binkie, and stipulate that Christianity is nothing but self-serving lies told by the elite to maintain their power.  Let’s further stipulate that the elite have always known this, and that no member of the Christian elite has ever believed word one of the Gospels.  Even in this worst-of-all-worlds scenario — which goes against all evidence and all common sense — we have to admit: Christianity worked pretty well, social order-wise.  So long as the hypocritical elite still make a public show of piety, “Christendom” does pretty well.

I wonder if Cultural Marxism might not do the same.  In the olden days, it was enough that the people at the top made a big show of their piety in front of the peasants (and even they could live like Hollywood producers while strictly among their own).  In the social media age, though, everyone’s on display all the time.  What it took the peasantry 1500 years to learn about Christianity — that it’s nothing but a pack of self-serving lies — is exposed every day, by pretty much every single SJW on Twitter (which is to say, by every single SJW in the universe).  Could they stay in power if they started making a show of following their own rules?

I doubt it, because they seem constitutionally incapable of not rubbing in our faces the fact that they’re above their own laws.  But power’s a funny thing.  I expect them to at least try, or make a show of trying, and that might help them cling to power long enough for it to cease to matter.

Interesting times are ahead.

 

*1988 — 9/10/2001
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The Genius of Standardized Testing

Historians always have what’s known in the trade as a “source base problem.”  Any reconstruction of the past depends on what survives, and since survivals are highly variable (and almost always accidental), most of the things we really want to know will forever remain conjecture.  We’re fairly certain what happened, in most cases, but how and why are forever a mystery.

This is especially true when it comes to beliefs, worldviews, ways of living (the academic term d’art for this is mentalités).  For instance, you can be pretty sure that the Greeks had a fairly robust conception of the afterlife — every civilization does — but since the sources are largely silent, you get stuff about the Greeks viewing the afterlife as pointless…. which is odd, to say the least, in a culture as concerned with posthumous reputation as the Greeks, but there you have it.  Source base problem, see?  I’m also pretty sure the Stoics practiced some form of Buddhist-style meditation — given their beliefs, and the Hellenistic world’s well-documented cultural exchanges with India, how could they not? — but since no one has left us an account of Stoic philosophers meditating in an ashram, we can only speculate….

This act of speculation used to be called “the historical imagination,” and back when History was a conservative discipline — as it was, believe it or not, within living memory — it was understood that though all one’s speculations might not make it into the books, the historical imagination was the most important part of the historian’s toolkit.  How else is one to make, say, the Greco-Roman world accessible to a bunch of teenagers?  A good historian can imagine both his subject and his audience, bridging the gap between the two.

The modern discipline, needless to say, is the exact opposite of that.  The genius of Standardized Tests is that they train test-takers to consider only the “givens” of any problem.  A well-rounded adult — you know, the kind education was once supposed to produce — would take what he knows about the Greeks, and what he knows about the lack of sources on their beliefs about the afterlife, and conclude that there’s probably a lot more to it.

Modern students, by contrast, “reason” that since Homer is the only source we have, Homer is the only source there is — from which they conclude, NAEP-style, that whatever Homer explicitly said about the afterlife is the sum total of Greek belief about it.

It’s a really swell way to atomize a people, to turn them into the good little consumers globo-techno-socialism requires.

 

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We Need a Theocracy

Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered, and the unarmed ones have been destroyed. Besides the reasons mentioned, the nature of the people is variable, and whilst it is easy to persuade them, it is difficult to fix them in that persuasion. And thus it is necessary to take such measures that, when they believe no longer, it may be possible to make them believe by force.

-Machiavelli, The Prince.

All the Left’s lunacies — “intersectionality,” open borders, made-up pronouns, blue hair, all of it — are increasingly frantic attempts to avoid drawing the obvious conclusions from their premises.

Leftism is nihilism.  The Soviets, bless their dissident-torturing hearts, were at least honest about it.  The Fundamentals of Marxist-Leninist Philosophy, a guidebook published in the USSR for the education of comrades abroad, spends several introductory chapters decreeing that only matter in motion exists.  Consciousness, it proclaims, is merely a property of “highly organized” matter.  Therefore, nothing exists but this world.*

Even the best Communist, then, wholly dedicated to the Proletariat’s welfare, is just temporarily alleviating the material conditions of some shivering naked apes.  It’s better to pass threescore and ten will a full belly, I suppose, than not, but existence is fundamentally pointless.  You live, you die, and even the best of us will be forgotten the minute the iPhone 9 comes out.

So it is with any Leftist idea.  They’re all fundamentally pointless.  Run through every possible organization of matter — none is better than any other, because how could it be?  Atoms don’t care how they fall through the void, and if certain arrangements of those falling atoms somehow, for a brief instant, result in consciousness, then so what?  Rejigger the arrangements of the consciousness-bearing configurations; again, so what?

“X is a social construction.”  So it is, but whatever construction we choose, it makes no difference — you’ll have, at most, a few brief moments of ecstasy before your atoms fall back into the void. Meanwhile you’re miserable because the other atoms won’t rejigger themselves to your liking.  Why not just be as happy as you can be, with whatever chance arrangement of matter you find yourself in?  Or, if that’s intolerable, why not just cut to the chase?  Suicide is painless, the old song says, and the end’s the same for all of us anyway.

Some kind of transcendent reality is the only thing that gives life meaning.  It may not be real — it’s probably not real — but it’s the only thing that can reconcile us to this particular arrangement of atoms.  Leftists would rather see the whole world burn than admit it; we can’t let them.

Machiavelli had it right.

 

 

*One wonders, then, where those Forces of History come from, the ones that make Revolution and the Triumph of Communism inevitable.  Isn’t Marx’s “objective Idealism” impossible in a world made up of atoms and void?  I’m sure the good professors who wrote the guidebook have an answer, and you’re welcome to try to parse it out for yourself.  In practice, of course, it doesn’t matter, because the real answer is “shut up,” and when it’s accompanied by a rifle butt to the head as your entire family is getting shipped of to Siberia, it’s remarkably persuasive.
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Hazing

I was asked to rush a fraternity in college.  Twice, actually.

I didn’t do it.  Part of the reason was financial — I was a scholarship kid without two nickels to rub together, and my parents, similarly nickel-less, would’ve laughed in my face if I’d asked them to pay for it.  The other part, though — at least the first time — was that I simply didn’t want to eat 50 pickled eggs while running laps at 2 in the morning, or whatever the hazing was.

They asked me again next year.  This time, though, the word had come down from on high: No hazing.  Too many liability issues.  And that’s the funny thing: I still couldn’t have afforded it, but I no longer even considered it.  What’s the point of joining a “brotherhood” that lets anybody in?

That no-hazing thing embodies one of the Left’s key insights into human nature.  Men are lost, unmoored, adrft, without any way to sort and rank themselves.  I’ve said many times that “Game” is 75% spergy bullshit, but there’s some real truth to the socio-sexual hierarchy.  Most men are Deltas — the good soldiers, the go-along-to-get-along types who are ok with just following orders, whose self-image rests on knowing their place and excelling within it.  Some men are Alphas, the natural leaders.  Others are Betas, or Gammas, or whatever you want to call them (remember: 75% spergy bullshit).  The point is this: Without some way of evaluating yourself, it’s difficult to know where you fit….

… and since “knowing where you fit” is a key part of the male psyche, the easiest way to neuter a whole group of men is to take away their self-sorting mechanisms.  Oh, we’ll find proxies — we’re problem-solvers — but none of them are as good as plain ol’ head-to-head competition in front of your peers.  Worse, proxy fights can be manipulated.  Read the comments on any “Game” blog — it’s pretty clear that most of those guys have never even seen a vagina anywhere other than on their computer screens, but because there’s no way to empirically verify one’s “notch count,” they carry on like they’re Don Juan…

…which is all part of the neutering plan, comrade.  You don’t have to be a “Game” guru to know that the worst guy to have in any organization is the loudmouth who thinks — scratch that, who knows — he’s the Alpha, but can’t get anyone else to recognize it.  When you get to haze your pledges, it’s easy to see who’s bullshitting.  Take away hazing, and it’s open season for manipulative little weasels to do their thing.  That kind of guy will gleefully burn an organization to the ground, because in his mind, that’s “winning” — if they’d only have put him in charge, none of this would’ve happened!

I was half-kidding with that whole “Sons of Valley Forge” bit… but only half.  If ever Our Thing is going to get off the Internet and out into the real world, it absolutely must develop some kind of real organization — and that organization must have “hazing.”  We don’t have to make newbies do the elephant walk or anything, but the first step to effective political action is getting our balls back… and that involves some self-sorting competition.

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