Permanent Revolution

By the (self-chosen) end of his life, the late great David Stove, one of the fiercest defenders free thought ever had, was arguing in all sincerity that expressing what he called “the equality opinion” should be a death penalty offense.  Admit that “society” will always be “unjust” so long as one person has more than another, and the whole catalog of totalitarian horrors follows, by necessity, as surely as ice follows from water and freezing temperatures.  He mostly meant “equality” in the material sense (this was c.1991), but even then the Left was making the Harrison Bergeron implications obvious — more looks, more brains, more talent, more drive, more self control, whatever it is, we shall never have Social Justice while anyone has more.

He was right.  A Stove-ian look at the history of philosophy forces one conclusion: The whole of Western social thought, stem to stern, top to bottom, is an attempt to change Envy from a vice to a virtue.  (This includes theology).  And the reason for it is simple: Philosophers have less.  Less looks, less self control, less money, less power, and often less brains and drive, too, and they damn well know it.  The only thing they have more of is talk.

Up to about 1500 or so, this didn’t matter, since nobody who had more ever listened to philosophers.  But by 1500 or so, European society was prosperous enough that lots of people had more, such that it was obvious that having more is not due to God’s special favor (which used to mean “blue blood”), but is largely chance.  As the now unjustifiably obscure philosopher Rodericus Stewartus once said, “Some guys have all the luck,” and instead of taking that as proof of God’s special favor like the bluebloods did, your Martin Luthers and John Calvins …

…well, ok, they took it as proof of God’s special favor, too, but they also — in a leap of “logic” that makes sense only to them and modern-day Leftists — concluded that God’s special favor can be purchased by saying the right things.  How do you know you’re among the Elect?  By having more… then feeling the overwhelming urge to lecture everyone about how sinful having more is (see the famous Codex Murus for examples).

But the philosophers still aren’t satisfied, because while the guys who listen to them have more, all right — that part of the doctrine’s rock solid — they themselves still have less.  And that doesn’t follow, because not only do they say the right things, they’re the ones telling everyone else what to say!  But when you point that out to the guys who have more — those Puritan merchants who just bought Manhattan for a handful of beads, for instance — they tell you to go get a job, parchment breath.

I’m sure y’all have noticed the inverse relationship between material prosperity and intellectual rigor, so fast forward a few generations.  Now it seems that “having more” is actually the default condition of mankind.  And yet, the philosophers still have less.  Which can only mean: There is an active conspiracy against the philosophers.  It’s the ____’s fault we don’t have more.  Fill in the blank with whatever you like: Jews, Capitalists, Aristocrats, Designated Hitters, it’s all the same, only the names have changed.

And now we come to the heart of the problem: Material prosperity produces these people, in the same way Stove says “the equality opinion” produces secret police and slave labor camps.  Indeed, it’s the exact same process, because the idea of The ___ Conspiracy simply is “the equality opinion.”  One’s expressed intellectually, the other emotionally, but it’s the same thing.  Objective considerations of emergent historical phenomena compel us to conclude, comrades, that first we must kill all the Kulaks, and then we shall have Utopia.

The only social policy question, then, is: What to do with these people?  A certain level of material prosperity will produce them.  It’ nature’s way of keeping the balance — just as a predator or a pathogen always evolves to kill off an over-abundant grazer, so human over-abundance results in an intellectual pathogen to keep us from amusing ourselves to death.

That’s what college was for, back in the days — a containment room for intellectual pathogens.  When Harvard was just a four-year sleepaway camp for the sons of privilege, letting them sow their wild oats before joining the family firm on Wall Street, it didn’t matter that all Junior’s professors were moron Marxists.  That was probably still the case into the early 90s, when everyone understood what “middle class values” meant — deconstruction and the like are fun to play around with over a few bong hits, but they’re useless out in the ‘burbs, so it doesn’t matter that all the “English” classes at Big State only study Derrida and Zambezi war chants.

The professors got to think of themselves as “revolutionaries,” and we agreed to let them, with our fingers crossed behind our backs — yeah yeah, “revolution,” but only in the sense of spinning around and around and around, constantly chasing your head up your own ass, going nowhere.

But just as material abundance and intellectual rigor vary inversely, so prosperity and pathology vary directly.  Now everyone goes to college, and people really believe this shit.  For proof I give you the Kavanaugh hearings.  That’s a freshman “diversity” seminar, comrades, at any college in the land.  And now we’re on the brink of civil war, though everyone with the power to stop it is too flabby and coddled and stupid to realize it.

What’s to be done with these people, should we ever decide to give things like “indoor plumbing” and “living past 35” another go?  David Stove said we should shoot ’em all on sight.  I’m really hoping someone has a better idea….

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14 thoughts on “Permanent Revolution

  1. Frip

    Thanks. Buying Stove’s “What’s Wrong with Benevolence: Happiness, Private Property, and the Limits of Enlightenment”.

    I have his Against the Idols of the Age lying around here somewhere. I’d totally forgotten I had it.

    “That’s what college was for, back in the days — a containment room for intellectual pathogens.”

    Yeah, school in general. I remember during class, often looking around at the other kids scribbling down the CultMarx stuff the teacher was spouting, and thinking this is really going to flower someday. Flower as in explode. All our impressionable classmates have hit critical mass now. So here we are.

  2. Pickle Rick

    I’ve got to disagree a bit. College isn’t a containment room for intellectual pathogens, it’s an incubator.

    That’s why Cat Fancy (and their pan-European cousins on the right) was so thrillingly popular. It rejected the rule of effete intellectual philosophy and argued that Nature, red in tooth and claw, doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about your credentialed world, and celebrated the warriors, the farmer, the rural life and community. The “barbarians” who conquered Rome had no philosophers. It was a life where common folk had status and dignity based on what they did, and Cat Fancy tapped into that longing.

    Anyone else watching these elites sitting in our Senate wish that they might be visited by an army of Goths?

    1. Severian Post author

      You’ll get no argument from me if you say that every bad idea mankind has had since at least the Renaissance came out of some university.

      But in America, college has only recently become an incubator of this stuff. That’s one of the main reasons American “intellectuals” were, and are, so legendarily nasty — you can call yourself an “intellectual” in Europe, and so long as you’re wearing a black turtleneck and smoking a cigarette that smells like a hobo’s feet they’ll take your pretensions seriously. In America, up until about 1995 or so, we’d just laugh in your face. The Humanities, especially, have been doing the Rodney Dangerfield thing for years — no respect, I tell ya!

      But now that everyone goes to college — it’s just another in our long list of new “rights” — kids are starting to take professors as seriously as they take themselves, and that’s why this stuff is now incubating here…

      … and that’s why, quite frankly, I’m fucking terrified right now. Americans don’t mess around. When WE decide to do secret police, labor camps, and all that fun stuff, we’ll do it so thoroughly and ruthlessly that The Nerd himself will request a furlough from Hell, to beg us to tone it down a bit.

    2. Frip

      “I’ve got to disagree a bit. College isn’t a containment room for intellectual pathogens, it’s an incubator.”

      I’ve got to disagree a bit. College isn’t an incubator, it’s the generator in the basement that powers the incubator. But more specifically it’s the spice in the spicy mayo that the janitor spreads on his BLT to give HIM the energy to power the generators that power the incubators.

  3. Martinian

    I agree with what you’re saying…which is why I’m so interested in sorting out how to attack the beast in its home, namely, the educational establishment.

    The university system is on track to implode financially (hence all the political yammering about major subsidies in the form of “free” college for everyone…) . I don’t think we really need to hit there.

    I would argue that it’s High School and even Middle School where we need to attack big time. Just off the top of my head, look at all the crap that’s aimed at radicalizing kids in that age group via enticement by sex/drugs/music. I’m not trying to be a prude here, but an enormous amount of Leftist messaging comes pre-packaged in the corporatized sale of standard tools for teenage rebellion.

    1. Rod1963

      Public schooling today is a disaster for the half-way intelligent kids and sheer hell for the bright ones. Even Jordan Peterson says take your kids out of public schooling unless you want them exposed to lunacy like this:

      Gender Unicorn

      This stuff is being taught in public schools. Add in Common Core and factor in mainstreaming of disabled kids and low IQ ethnics and the classes being taught by Cultural Marxists/Po-Mo’s and you have a nightmare.

      At a nearby local school we had a case of girl striking a autistic boy.

      Now why are autistic kids in a mainstream high school with normal kids? They shouldn’t be, but the courts have mandated this crap. The autistics don’t fit in and can often annoy the normal kids to the point they pick on the disabled kid.

      At one time public schools kept them away from the normies and it was for the well being of both groups.

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  5. Al from da Nort

    Serious statement: Just as cocaine is God’s way of telling you you have too much money (per R Williams IIRC), the US university system is God’s way of telling the US that it has too much money. What to do_?

    I say TAKE THE MONEY. Use it to refinance the national debt or something useful

  6. Rod1963

    Is college the problem or is it the fact that college attracts bat-shit crazy intellectuals who would otherwise be obsessed Dee’s work on Angels or the alleged works of the Rosey Cross which kept them busy and from interfering with society at large.

    If you look back to pre-college times and even up the 18th century. A certain segment of Intellectuals were obsessed with various occult tracts and thinking. Men like William Blake were members of Tantric cults imported from India by British East-India traders. Isaac Newton wrote equally about the occult as well as physics.

    Look at our Founding Fathers. Washington never saw a real college. Jefferson was mostly taught by tutors and only had two years of college. He spent the first year partying and dancing. Franklin appeared to be a true autodictat and entrepreneur. Some like Adams were formally educated though in the classical tradition which is all but dead in this era and would send most intellectuals into the tall grass if it was made mandatory.

    Perhaps college strayed too far from it’s original purpose like many things in our modern era.

    it’s late and I’m rambling.

    1. Severian

      Is college the problem or is it the fact that college attracts bat-shit crazy intellectuals who would otherwise be obsessed Dee’s work on Angels or the alleged works of the Rosey Cross which kept them busy and from interfering with society at large.

      The nutters ye also have with you always, but the PhD-getting process is, even now, arduous enough that it keeps most of these people away (notice I don’t say it’s “hard.” It’s not. I can tell you everything you need to know to get a PhD in the Humanity of your choice in about 2 hours. But the sheer amount of classwork, writing, etc. means you don’t want to do it unless you’ve got a few years to spare). Plus that, the job market sucks, such that even people who do good work in real subjects have trouble getting jobs.

      The problem is the people who are dedicated, reasonably intelligent… and also batshit crazy. Those people end up as professors, but again, it wouldn’t matter if college still were what it always was supposed to be. These days, though, college is just high school that you pay for with a credit card, so the wackos can do real damage.

  7. MBlanc46

    Aristotle was a philosopher—The Philosopher, in fact—and he espoused the natural inferiority of women and slaves.

    1. Severian Post author

      And look how well that worked out!! Seriously. Aristotle actually had his ink-stained paws on a great world leader, Alexander the Great. Did Alexander’s empire look anything like what you might find in The Politics? QED.

      1. MBlanc46

        Philosophers might be handy for window dressing, but power players never take them seriously. My only point was that not all philosophers have swallowed the equalism drug.

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