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.
• 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.