Short Takes: April 2016

It’s been quite awhile since I posted an edition of Short Takes – my roundup of thoughts that are worth saying, but too limited to warrant a full blog post. But in this political season, there’s a lot that requires some attention to be paid. So let us pay it, without another moment’s delay:

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• I’m getting pretty sick and tired of the countersignaling against pro-life that seems to be fashionable amongst certain segments of the alt-right these days, as if saying that murdering babies is wrong is just too pleb-tier for edgy intellectuals like us. I have no patience for this. Murdering babies is evil, and should be illegal, with extreme penalties for violating the law. Full stop. If we as the alt-right can’t say that, then we’re worse than useless. Yes, some moral questions require subtle and nuanced thinking. But some do not, and in those cases, moral relativism is evil’s foot in the door. Abortion is one of those cases. Either abortion is murder, or it isn’t. If it is, then nothing justifies it except a direct and certain threat to the life of the mother, in which case one life is balanced against another – one will live, one will die, and the only choice is who. But if it is not, then abort away – one million a year, ten million a year, a billion a year, it matters not, and no more thought should be given to it than would be given to trimming a fingernail. Any other position – any half-measure, any “legal but rare”, any “in this case but not in that case”, is dishonesty both on a moral and a rational level.

• Related: Something to be cautious of is the increasingly large number of what I would call “racialist liberals” who are claiming to be a part of the alt-right. These are people who, politically-speaking, want all or most of what liberals do, but who are either (understandably) fed up with the disproportionate criminality of certain ethnic groups or who (correctly) believe that a liberal social order is unworkable with too many underperforming minorities acting as a drag on the system. Such people are, of course, entitled to their opinions. But they are not entitled to appropriate the term “rightist” (alt- or otherwise) without being called on it.

Being on the right means believing rightist things. If you don’t, then you aren’t on the right, and you shouldn’t claim that you are. So, if your claims that you are a rightist when you really aren’t are due to some sort of mistake or confusion, I’ll be happy to help correct any misconceptions you may have. If, however, they are intentional misrepresentation, then you are a left-entryist who must be revealed for what you are and ruthlessly denounced until you are hounded out of rightist circles. Again, you are entitled to your opinions. If you’re on the left, go be a leftist, and if the left is presently too racially egalitarian for you, then you’re welcome to agitate however you like to try to change that. But you aren’t entitled to acceptance under false pretenses, and I won’t extend you any.

• Also related: The Trump campaign is having all the effects on the alt-right that I predicted it would, for both better and worse. It must be conceded that Trump has had the effect of shifting the conscousness of the rank-and-file “normies” noticably rightward, or at least has made them far less afraid to speak out. In doing so, he has indeed moved the Overton Window. He has also caused the GOP establishment to be revealed for who and what it actually is, and few people (especially people under 60) will ever trust it again. These are all good things. Yet it must be said that the larger Trump phenomenon may all be based on illusion; it seems to me that Trump is something of a Rorschach test – the right (outside of the GOP establishment) sees him as the embodiment of all their hopes, while the left sees him as the embodiment of all their fears. In truth, he is almost certainly neither, and both those who need a hero to follow and those who need a dragon to slay are projecting those needs onto him.

On the other hand, the recent spate of anti-pro-life signaling has appeared largely because of Trump’s recent perceived “stumble” on an abortion-related question. Certain circles of the alt-right, having fallen into the trap of thinking that jettisoning principle to gain power is a sustainable strategy, have decided to throw pro-life under the bus as quickly as possible so as not to derail the Trump Train any further. These sorts never seem to stop and ask themselves what sacrificing principle for a chance at power has gotten mainstream conservatism. Thus, they inevitably turn into the very thing they’re rebelling against. In short, they’re every bit as much a bunch of cucks as Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, just on a different set of issues.

In the end, it may be fair to say that the Trump phenomenon has made the populist normies better and the alt-right elite worse. These elites, however, (by virtue of being elites) ought to have known not to let this happen to them, and there’s a lesson for all of us to be had here: this is what comes of a philosophical movement allowing itself to get too attached to a single leader, a political party, or even to power itself. Whether Trump is or isn’t the best of the available presidential candidates is beside the point; the excessive attachment that some on the alt-right have developed to him, combined with their renewed faith that they will ever get anything but defeat and humiliation out of mass democracy, represents a serious failing, and there will be consequences to this whether Trump wins or loses the election.

As for me, to misquote Christopher Hitchens, I’m not running for any office, so I don’t have to pretend to respect ideas that are foolish, hypocritical, or evil when I don’t. In this sense, having no aspirations to political power is freeing. Fiat justitia ruat caelum – I will continue to do my part by telling the truth, no matter what the consequences.

• The philosophy of “passivism” has been making the rounds lately in certain alt-right (and especially neoreactionary) circles, and with all due respect to those advocating it – many of whom are thinkers I deeply respect – I must admit to not being particularly impressed by the idea. It makes a certain amount of sense on paper, but in the real world, it is just too easy for it to degrade into lazyism and do-nothingism.

Most especially, I am puzzled by this: If passivism’s plan is, 1) Become worthy, 2) Accept power, 3) Rule, then what exactly is the strategy for making 2) happen? It looks to me as if this stage is glossed over in the manner of the infamous “underpants gnomes” of South Park. But it is not an unimportant question, and it would seem that passivism is all about avoiding it on the assumption that if we just become worthy enough, power will eventually come knocking on our door, hat in hand, begging us to accept it. I find this to be rather unrealistic, to say the least.

I understand, absolutely, saying that hippie-style protests will never work for the right. I understand saying that we should focus on the philosophical and meta-political, and leave the machinations of day-to-day politics to others. But when that turns into the idea of retreating from the world to spend our time in navel gazing and self-improvement schemes rather than trying to accomplish something in the here and now, my response is that if I wanted to do that, I would have joined a monastery. Instead, I started writing and speaking out because I wanted to change things, and I’m not planning to become “passive” anytime soon.

• Taikung Jen, in a conversation with Confucius:

“I’ll teach you how to escape death…

…there is a raven in the eastern sea which is called Yitai (‘dull-head’). This dull-head cannot fly very high and seems very stupid. It hops only a short distance and nestles close with others of its kind. In going forward, it dare not lag behind. At the time of feeding, it takes what is left over by the other birds. Therefore, the ranks of this bird are never depleted and nobody can do them any harm. A tree with a straight trunk is the first to be chopped down. A well with sweet water is the first to be drawn dry.”

•The city government of San Jose – heart of the Silicon Valley – has announced a campaign to crack down on unlicensed “massage parlors”, which they (correctly) accuse of being fronts for prostitution. While I carry no brief for houses of ill repute, I nonetheless find this move deeply disturbing. For as long as anyone I know can remember (going back to my grandparents’ time, and further) there has been an unspoken truce that has existed in every American city in which East Asian ethnic neighborhoods have formed. The terms have always been approximately this: the neighborhood will remain largely self-policing – violent crime among residents will stay rare, and violent crimes against outsiders (especially tourists) will remain virtually unheard-of. In exchange, the police (who, being no fools, surely know where to find it) will turn a blind eye to discreetly-operated dens of the sort of vices that East Asians particularly enjoy (gambling, prostitution, and the occasional opium den prominent among these). The new anti-vice campaign on the part of San Jose’s municipal government represents a violation of this long-established, stable, mutually-beneficial truce.

The Puritan left, of course, knows no honor, so any truce it offers will last only until they feel they have amassed enough power to break it with impunity. San Jose’s campaign fits in neatly with the left’s recent transgressions of other lines that, not long ago, they swore they would never cross – including those involving freedom of religion and even freedom of speech. And they will stop at nothing, nor will they respect any borderlines, in enforcing their new dictates. As Fred Reed noted, in the New Order, no one will be left alone – not anyone, not anywhere, not ever. There is no corner of the internet hidden enough, no small-town bakery obscure enough, no private sanctum deep enough within your own walls, no low-down barroom dingy and smoky enough, and no alley in Chinatown dark and narrow enough that the Puritan left’s Inquisitors – whether they are officials of the state or private vigilantes – will not insert themselves there in their hunt for demons to exorcise and witches to burn.

First they came for the Chinatown whorehouses…

• Related: The newest addition to the left’s long, long inventory of things that are triggering and oppressive and must be purged for the good of the children: Animanics. No, really.

Attention leftists – when you’ve reached the point where your enemies list has grown so long that it now includes Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, you’ve objectively gone batshit insane.

• There may, however, be a ray of hope out there in the darkness. Over at amerika.org, Brett Stevens has come up with a novel proposal for getting the lefties to leave us alone. He advocates a strategy of passing laws distasteful to them, not only because such laws are sane and reasonable, but also with the intent of getting them to boycott us (and thus to go away). Relevant quote from his article (which is very much worth reading in full):

“The only place safe from the ever-greedy belly of socialist-style government and the neurotic fatwas of Coastal liberals is the place that no one wants. Become that place. Make the South look utterly terrible to these Coastal neurotics and schizoids, and let them pull back. If they want a wall, let’s build that wall. Let us seal ourselves off from the North forever because we are so disgusting to their eyes.

In the meantime, cut free of their neurosis and the easy-money jobs of the cities that make people into robot zombies, we can rebuild civilization and eventually have enough tactical nukes to vanish them if they charge over the wall. Let the Coastal liberals face the fate of their reality-denying, misery-spreading Leftist mental health issues. We must break free, and it begins by making them not hate us, but be grossed out by us.”

At the moment, this seems to be working brilliantly, not only at keeping degenerate pornographers at bay, but in preventing attention-seeking show biz has-beens from pestering decent folk, and even at driving off crooked, predatory globalist banksters. So far so good then – I’ll lend my personal endorsement to the Stevens Plan. If it keeps undesirables from darkening our doorsteps, then it’s a win-win all around.

By the way, would it be silly of me to ask why the left suddenly finds millionaires and huge multinational corporations interfering in politics to be totally acceptable when that interference furthers the left’s own political aims? Yes, I suppose it would.

(UPDATE I: Washed-up 80s relic Cyndi Lauper says she’ll donate all of the proceeds from her next concert to a gay rights organization trying to get the North Carolina law repealed. So, there’s another $4.25 or so in the kitty! You go, girl.

UPDATE II: And now insufferable prog lardsack Michael Moore has announced that in response to the new law, he won’t be releasing his latest dismal propaganda film to theaters in North Carolina. This law just keeps getting better and better!)

• Has anyone else noticed that among leftism’s innumerable internal contradictions is the fact that their dogmatic belief in blank-slate theory directly contradicts their opposition to hereditary monarchy? If blank-slate theory is true, then there is no reason to fear a “bad seed” on the throne – all that will be needed to produce the ideal philosopher-kings of which thinkers since Socrates have dreamed will be to give them the right upbringing and education. (This latter is especially important, for the left’s belief in education as alchemy – able to turn any human material into any other kind of human material that may be desired – is essentially absolute.) So why then do they not, instead of opposing monarchy, devote their energies to advocating for the right sort of education for young princes?

Perhaps in their mind lurks the knowledge that Nero’s teacher was Seneca, and Commodus’s was his father Marcus Aurelius. Then again, when did “progressives” ever stoop to learning from history?

• The left is an engine of sadism and destruction; included in this is sadism and destruction directed inward – i.e. masochism and self-destruction. This is not incidental to leftism nor a by-product of it; the sadomasochistic imperative is in fact central to leftism. Nothing that the left does can be understood unless seen through this lens; looked at any other way, its actions seem random and bizarre. It explains both the left’s pattern of rewarding those who engage in behaviors destructive to society at large and even to the left in particular, as well as its otherwise-inexplicable alliance with Islam. For example, Muslims knocked down the Twin Towers; and as a result, the number of Muslim immigrants in the United States has been doubled since that day. Or consider that the massive sexual irresponsibility of gays spread an epidemic that killed tens of millions; and as a result, they were rewarded with gay “marriage”. Or that violent criminal predators have turned the streets of our once-gleaming cities into dystopian war zones; and as a result, they are getting handsomely paid off in exchange for a pinky promise to not do it again (contrast this to the penalties in technically-communist but non-self-destructive China for “hooliganism”).

The left desperately wants death, but the sadomasochistic imperative at its core means that its suicide will not be in the form of an otherwise-harmless self-immolation in the style of Thich Quang Duc. Instead, the left will destroy itself in the manner of Andreas Lubitz – intentionally taking everyone who they have trapped within their power along with them in their death dive; the helpless victims, in a rather more urgent version of William F. Buckley’s response to leftism, pounding helplessly on the cockpit door as the mountains get ever-closer, telling: “No! No! For the love of God, stop!”

Either we destroy the left, or it destroys itself and takes us along with it. In the end, which is more humane? More reasonable?

• I was 15 years old when the film Rain Man was released to theaters. I remember Good Morning America running a segment just before it debuted in which they had to explain what autism was, (being especially careful to make the point that it was not the same thing as mental retardation) because at the time it was such an unknown condition that most people had never heard of it. Over the intervening years, it seems as though autism, like homosexuality, has gone all the way from existing in the shadows to being the new normal. Scientists and physicians, I’m sure, have well-reasoned explanations for the increase in rates of autism over the last thirty years or so, and I have no doubt of the correctness of their explanations. But I can’t help but notice that autism seems to be the signature disorder of our age – a medical condition that perfectly reflects where we are as a society. Of course, autism is the apotheosis of the Whig thinking that, over the course of centuries, has become the central current of thought in the West (and, via the transmission lines of globalism, the world). Ruthlessly logical, humorless, uncultured, literal – it is the thinking of a cog in a system, but essentially nothing else. What could be more reflective of the computerized, post-industrial age – an age in which our lives are defined by interaction with machines, and in which thinking like a machine is increasingly considered to be the height of intelligence?

Whoever you turn into heroes, that is who people will seek to emulate. Now, think of all the high-functioning autistics who we have held up as the great heroes of our age – Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and others who built huge fortunes quickly in the Great Silicon Valley Gold Rush of 1975-2010. When the heroes we were all taught to emulate were cowboys, soldiers, policemen – men who reflected masculine virtue – what sort of men did our society produce? And now that socially-maladjusted, overly-literal machine-men – they who know circuits and cost/benefit analyses, but who can discern no use for God or philosophy or morality – now that these are our heroes, what sort of men is our society producing?

Perhaps the scientists will say that’s all a coincidence. If it is, it’s a remarkable one.

• From New York comes word that the NYC subway’s implementation of NFC payments will take at least five more years (and likely much longer), and that only $10 million of the projected $450 million budget for the project has actually been allocated. Behold the entropy of a decadent, declining, systemically corrupt system in action! New York City – so great a showpiece of advancement in the 20th century that the young Ayn Rand, fresh off the boat from Russia, wept when she beheld its towering skyline – cannot, in this century, find a timely and cost-effective way to implement a technology that Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, and even Bangkok have been using for years.

My prediction:The NYC subway system, which has for many years been desperately in need of a major modernization (not just in terms of new technology like NFC payments, but in basics like better ventilation and some escalators to replace endless flights of stairs in big stations), will not be getting significantly more modern anytime soon. The NFC project will crawl along for years, with nothing much coming of it. When it is finally finished, years late and tend of millions over budget, the final product will be barely-functional at best. Meanwhile, astronomical amounts of taxpayer money will disappear into politically-connected pockets (all in ways that are technically perfectly legal).

Bob Grant used to say that we are slipping and sliding into third worldism. This is a fine example of that trend. Do not expect it to be reversed anytime soon. An occasional rocket landing on a boat aside (every trend line has a few bumps in the opposite direction), we are not a society that can get things done anymore.

• Related: Will everybody please shut the hell up about Uber? Stop treating it like it’s the past decade’s most innovative development in tech. For heaven’s sake, it’s just a phone app that helps you to hail a gypsy cab; it’s not the freaking Apollo moon landing program.

• He’s back! After an absence of four years, the prognosticator of prognosticators, the badass of business – everyone’s favorite Texan investor, Johnnie Walker drinker, and secret brony – the man they call Ghost has returned with all-new episodes of True Capitalist Radio! I’m a big fan of the show, the host, and even (maybe especially) the trolls, so trust me here – if you listen to a few episodes, I’m confident that you’ll be hooked.

 

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Short Takes: June 2015

It’s been a while since I posted an edition of Short Takes – my regular roundup of thoughts that are worth saying, but too limited to warrant a full blog post. For the past year or so, I’ve been using Twitter as a platform for such thoughts, but now that I’ve decided to leave Twitter, the long-overdue return of Short Takes has become a priority. So without further ado, here are my very choicest brief thoughts.

Let’s start with a couple of thoughts related to competition:

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• In 1991, everyone believed that we had defeated communism forever. I remember the joyous triumphalism myself. Famously, the end of history was declared, and at the time, that did not seem all so very farfetched at all. But it is now obvious that 1991 was not an extinction event for communism, but an evolutionary event. It was the culmination of a competitive struggle for dominance between two closely-related subspecies, like that between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals. Soviet-style communism hit an evolutionary dead end, but its failure simply allowed a competing subspecies – Frankfurt School Cultural Marxism – to prosper. And with its competition in its evolutionary space eliminated, that’s exactly what it did.

• What explains the burning hatred that the left/the New Atheists have for Christianity? Simply not believing in it is not enough to explain it. They do not believe in Buddhism or Hinduism either, but do not express the same hatred of these faiths – not even of Islam, which is arguably even more antithetical to their beliefs than Christianity is, receives anything close to the same level of hostility from them. And besides, are these not the same leftists and atheists who not so very long ago, when they were the underdogs and were pleading for tolerance, used to quote Thomas Jefferson’s pronouncement that “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg”? If this is so, then the reaction of those who do not believe in God toward those who do (or those who believe in evolution toward those who, for religious reasons, don’t) should be only apathy. So their neighbors believe something that we regard as irrational – so what? The world abounds in irrational beliefs, both religious and secular. They will never all be eradicated, so why bother wasting time and energy in hating it and trying to talk people out of it? (Which the do, incessantly – one can barely say “God bless you” after someone sneezes without having some atheo-leftist who happened to be within earshot fly into an angry anti-Christian tirade).

The truth of the matter is that the left hates Christianity because the left is a fanatical utopian cult, and Christianity represents competition in its space. There can be only one utopia, and only one true path by which it can be reached. Either it will be the Kingdom of Heaven, reached by following the Holy Word of Jesus Christ, or it will be the Whig/leftist “end of history” eschaton, reached by following the Holy Word of Equality. There is no room for both – for one to be true, the other must be false, and in order for people to accept one as true, they must reject the other as false. Anyone who attempts to find a middle way is a fool who is wasting their time on an impossibility. Leftists understand this, which is why they despise anyone of genuine Christian faith and treat those who practice “progressive Christianity” as mere useful idiots (which is precisely what they are). The atheo-left passionately hates its competition, and works tirelessly to destroy it by any means necessary. The mainstream religious right does not fully understand any of this, merely dislikes its competition, and seeks ways to limit it via the gentlemanly rules of liberal democratic capitalism.

Who’s winning?

• Modern politically correct leftism is all Puritan, and Modern Puritanism is all politically correct leftist. But by what process does Puritanism turn into leftism? It does so because of a paradox that it cannot resolve any other way. Puritanism becomes leftism because it cannot abide hypocrisy, but it also cannot eradicate vice. As I have discussed elsewhere, most traditional societies understand that vice is ineradicable from the human condition, and thus accept as necessary a certain level of hypocrisy – that we keep vice in the shadows and condemn it publicly, even when we practice it privately behind closed doors. This was understood as a necessary compromise between idealism and reality. The Puritans, being idealist, utopian, and ideological – in other words, pure Modernists – upset this balance in the name of eradicating the tiniest bit of vice, no matter how hidden, in deed, word, and thought.

And yet they too eventually were faced with the unfortunate, yet undeniable reality that vice cannot be eradicated from the human condition. Prohibition was the last great experiment in eradicating vice, and when it failed the Puritans could no longer deny the obvious. But where did that leave them? Hypocrisy hides vice, and to eliminate hypocrisy means to bring vice out into the open; but if the purpose of bringing vice out into the open is to eradicate it, and if we must accept that vice cannot be eradicated, then what is there to do? One path would be to admit that their entire frame was faulty all along, and to go back to the proven, traditional way of tolerating a certain level of hypocrisy and turning a blind eye to discreet vice. That would have been sensible, prudent, and in accordance with the wisdom of our ancestors. So of course that was not what was done. Instead, the only other possible path was taken – that hypocrisy would remain intolerable, but that vice would be normalized. The paradox is resolved if it is declared that vice is not a bad thing after all; that the only wrong is being a hypocrite about it. And so modern Puritans continue to bring vice out into the open – only now to normalize it, to celebrate it, and to demand its acceptance.

In short, Puritanism now does the exact opposite of what it was created to do in the first place. That’s a common phenomenon in all the branches of Modernity (One may with difficulty recall that leftism was initially created for the purpose of protecting farmers and the working class – who were symbolized by the crossed hammer and sickle – from effete, decadent urbanized elites). This is because all Modernity prioritizes process over product. Modernity is heavily based on theory; specifically, on theories about social processes that will produce a good (or even a perfect) end product. The problem is that people come to believe so deeply in these theories that they lose sight of what the product was supposed to look like in the first place, and cling to their theories even even when it becomes obvious that they are not producing, and never will produce, the products that they are supposed to. Thus they will, in order to preserve the theories, either (like Marxist dead-enders) continue to delusionally claim that the desired product will show up any old time now, no matter how much evidence exists to show that it won’t, or they will (like the Puritans) adjust their expectations of the product until their definition of a good product is reduced to merely matching whatever the process is actually capable of producing.

Puritanism is unrealistic, utopian, heretical, and ignorant of human nature, and in the end has produced all that any such philosophy is capable of producing – decay and degeneracy.

• The left is licking its chops and reveling in the personal destruction of a family called the Duggars, who apparently (I am not much of a television watcher) are a traditional family that stars in a reality television program. The occasion for this destruction seems to be that, of their nineteen children, a single one of them made some exceptionally poor choices in relation to sex when he was an adolescent boy. Compounding this is the fact that, rather than instantly responding by having their son sent to prison for rape, thus ensuring that his life would be utterly and irrevocably destroyed, his parents tried every alternative they could think of to deal with the matter by other means. According to the left, that discredits all of them, their way of life, their religion, all of their beliefs, and anyone else who shares any of those beliefs or sympathizes with them in the slightest, forever. (Meanwhile, so we hear, though Stalin and Mao murdered tens of millions of people, that doesn’t count because they didn’t do that because they were atheists.)

No one should think that I mean to hold the Duggars blameless in this, because I don’t, but the mistakes they made were not the ones that the left (which apparently has no concept of trying to show mercy to an adolescent boy who made some terrible mistakes or to parents who wanted to not ruin their son’s life) accuses them of having made. No, their mistakes were ones which all traditionalists should take as lessons: Never, ever, under any circumstances, involve either the government or the media in your family’s private affairs. The media are jackals who delight in destroying even people who they were praising just yesterday; and if you are a traditionalist, they hate you like poison. They will look for any means to destroy you, as they have with the Duggars. Whether you’re in it to be a celebrity or to try to deliver some message you think is uplifting, it doesn’t matter – it’s not worth it. As for the government, if you love your family, DO. NOT. EVER. involve the government in your family’s private internal affairs, no matter how bad things have gotten. Government involvement will not make things better. Handle it yourself. That’s what men are for… what the expression “man up” means.

• The present-day leftist, unlike his more direct Stalinist forebears, does not seek to officially remove your rights, but to create so many burdensome regulations on them and exceptions to them that while in theory you still enjoy them, in practice you do not. If, for example, the government can tell you who you must or cannot hire at your business, what you must or cannot compensate them with, and who you must or cannot accept business from (not to mention taking a huge chunk of the money your business generates), then do you really “own” your business in any meaningful sense? Now the left is coming for the very free speech it championed while it was the underdog – the exceptions have started to appear: “Hate speech is not free speech”. First will come, not the thought police, but the thought vigilantes, saying: “No platform!” Later, well… the government does lots of things that twenty years ago I would have refused to believe that it would ever do.

So we enter the age of theoretical rights. This is the approach of the modern communist, who has learned from all the bad P.R. of showy things like the Berlin Wall and the Gulag Archipelago. Your rights will be taken away slowly, by stealth, and only de facto – you will still have all your de jure rights, but good luck trying to actually exercise them.

• In the wake of the Dylan Roof shooting, several retailers, including Sears, Walmart, Amazon, and eBay, have decided to stop selling Confederate-themed merchandise. According to the left, as private businesses, these outfits have every right to not sell such merchandise on principle. But your local bakery has no right to not sell a gay wedding cake. Because reasons.

Note that the Confederate flag is a symbol. That makes it important to the present-day left because they are obsessed with symbols and signaling. This, for example, explains their obsession with pop culture, and their constant vigilance about every tiny detail of pop culture remaining scrupulously politically correct. Despite their claims to intellectualism, they are shallow people who believe in insubstantial ideas because believing those ideas makes them feel good. It is no surprise that such people obsess endlessly over symbols, which are merely pointers to ideas instead of being actual ideas themselves. Evaluating actual ideas is hard; obsessing over symbols is easy.

• The removal of Confederate merchandise from important retailers is a presage of things to come. Soon, very soon, the left will start going after social networks, web hosting companies, and other internet platforms in earnest in an effort to have unapproved political speech effectively banned from the internet. The same logic will be used – that private companies have the right to refuse customers based on principle (again, unless it’s an unapproved principle). Free speech on the internet will then become yet another of the above-mentioned theoretical rights – in theory you will still have the right to voice whatever opinion you like online, but good luck trying to actually do it.

This push will be aided by the fact that the trend on the internet has been towards consolidation; towards effective monopolies, or at best towards having only a couple of serious competitors in any given space. There are, for example, online retailers other than Amazon and eBay, but few that matter, and even fewer that matter outside of a single specialty. Similarly, there are video sites other than YouTube, online payment systems other than PayPal, podcast hubs other than iTunes, blogging sites other than Blogger and WordPress, and social networks other than Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, but none that really matter. Once banned from these, having a meaningful online presence becomes far more difficult; people will have to go further out of their way to find you, and far fewer of them ever will.

A tech pundit (I think, perhaps, it was Robert Scoble) once said that for most people, the internet is Facebook, and while that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it is not all that much of one. For most people, the internet is a handful of high-traffic websites – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, eBay, YouTube, Wikipedia, Netflix – and that’s about it. This means that only a few pressure points need to be hit in order to, if not completely ban unapproved opinions from the internet, effectively push them into the shadows where few will ever see them. This is far too attractive and easy a target for the left to ignore. And they won’t. Expect them to take action – soon, very soon.

• The contrasting stories of Dylann Roof and Omar Thornton (Who, you ask? Exactly.) perfectly illustrate the precise manner in which the mainstream press lies to us. They rarely ever say anything that is outright false; this would be easily enough detected. Instead, they carefully select which news stories to hype and which to ignore, as fit the needs of the narrative. They then hide behind the idea that the decision as to which news stories deserve wide coverage, and which do not, is subjective. This, like the reporting they do on the stories they cover, is technically true. Yet when a consistent pattern can be seen in the selection of stories such that it portrays the larger reality of the world as being something different than it actually is, then their reporting, collectively, represents a lie. Remember that – it is perfectly possible to lie horrendously without ever saying anything that isn’t technically true. Look past the details, and see the Big Lie.

• Related: The alt-right, and especially the neoreactionary movement, has been flooded with attempts at entryism from Neo-Nazis lately, and the more I’ve seen of these people, the more I’m convinced that no respectable alt-righter should have anything to do with them. They are a bunch of proletarian dullards who cling to their own brand of utopianism – the idea that if only everyone around them were the same race as they are, everything would be perfect. Not only that, but they are obsessive about their perceived enemies, and like all paranoids, make those enemies out to be supermen of positively mythical abilities. This rather counterintuitive mental maneuver exists so that they can avoid any responsibility for their sad condition being laid at the feet of themselves or their own people. One thing I’ve learned in life is that whenever you meet someone who always has a story about how every one of the bad things that have ever happened to them in their lives are all entirely someone else’s fault, and never any of their own, you should be very cautious indeed and should treat the things they say with more than a few grains of salt. This is true both at the individual level and at the group level. Look, for example, at the black community, which has been blaming whites for all of their troubles instead of trying to fix their own flaws for the past half-century. How has that worked out for them? We can – we must – do better than that.

In order to survive and be relevant, the alt-right must be two things: ruthlessly intellectual, and deeply soulful. With the present political system lost, it should focus heavily on self-improvement, both at a personal level and at the level of creating more robust communities with a more robust culture. We can’t do any of that if we spend all of our time obsessing about how awful our enemies are and how badly they’ve done us wrong. Even if it’s true, and they did, who let it happen? Why? How can we change our own perceptions and the ways in which we operate in order to prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes which allowed that to happen all over again the next time?

This is a long, painful and difficult process of study, self-examination, and soul-searching. Theories about how to best improve ourselves will have to be developed, debated, and ultimately, tested. It’s much easier, and feels much better, to just go online and rage about the Jews, or the blacks, or the Mexicans. Yes, easier… too easy; another case where “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is”. We should not allow ourselves to fall into that trap.

• So am I a White Nationalist? To steal a line from John Derbyshire when once asked if he believed in God, the answer is: “Probably not to the satisfaction of most people who would ask the question”. It is my belief (actually more my observation) that it is simply part of human nature for people to wish to be around others who they perceive to be like themselves. Though it is far from the only way in which people could perceive others as being like them, race and ethnicity represent one obvious and common way in which they do. Whether this is right, or fair, or just, or logically optimal is beyond the point. It is human nature, and our experience over the past century or two with systems that have tried to operate in direct opposition to human nature (on the theory that they could change or overcome it if they tried hard enough) should be enough to demonstrate that it is foolish at best to continue to attempt to make any such systems work.

What, then, is the solution? I am not much of one for “human rights”, but if there is any right that I am closest to being an absolutist about, it is freedom of association (Which is also, perhaps not so coincidentally, the one right that the current leftist Establishment hates the most and has gone the farthest out of its way to abolish). So long as they do so peaceably and are not engaging in a criminal conspiracy (as might be defined under reasonable laws, not under a leftist ideological tyranny), people should have the right to associate with whoever they wish, and to not associate with whoever they wish. This extends to the areas of forming communities, engaging in commerce, offering or accepting employment, and, really, basically every other area of human endeavor. The right to peaceably exclude others (and here we understand this to include the right to, with the minimum amount of force necessary, physically remove trespassers who refuse to leave when asked) is a fundamental and long-underrated liberty of free citizens. It is also a deep threat to egalitarian true believers, who know full well that as soon as the government boot is off people’s necks, they will filter out into groups of others (some, but not all, based on race) who they perceive to be like them, as it is human nature to do.

I support people in their right to act in accordance with their human nature in this matter. Which to some degree does make me a White Nationalist – and also a Black Nationalist, and an Asian Nationalist, and a Latino Nationalist. So the answer is yes, I suppose, but again, probably not to the satisfaction of many who might ask the question.

• Speaking of neoreaction: History tells us that no restoration movement ever succeeds completely. Nor should it – if something needs to be restored, that means it failed somehow, and if it failed, there must be some reason for its failure; some flaw that should be fixed to the best of our ability to do so. We don’t want to be a reflection of Talleyrand’s description of the restored Bourbon kings: “They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing”. Neoreaction takes the conservative approach of a good engineer. Engineers understand that if there’s an existing solution that works well or a proven answer that somebody else has already come up with, then coming up with a new answer or a new solution is stupid, pointless, and wasteful at best, and potentially dangerous at worst. Engineers prefer the proven over the unproven, the tested over the untested, the known over the unknown, and for very good reasons. Where they do end up using something new and unproven because of some advantage it brings to the table, they’ll test the bejeezus out of it, over and over again, exploring and documenting every possible failure mode, noting both their likelihood and their potential severity, and coming up with redundancies in case it does fail, before they’ll sign off on making it an operational technology.

When it comes to social technology, good, functional systems have already been invented, but were abandoned for bad reasons in favor of new systems that don’t work well. That’s not to say that the old systems didn’t have any flaws – even good, proven systems fail sometimes, and even good, proven systems need to be adjusted and refined in order to minimize failure to the greatest extent possible. So let’s restore the old, good, functional systems, while finding ways to adjust and refine them to the degree necessary in order to correct their flaws and adapt them to new conditions. Investigating how to do that is what neoreaction is all about.

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That’s it for Short Takes for this month. I’ve been away from the blog, busy with real-world goings-on, for some time now, but I’m positively brimming with ideas and will be back with a whole lot more to say in the weeks to come. Keep checking in! I hope to richly reward your patience with me.