nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst

signals, signals everywhere / and not a thought to think

Posts Tagged ‘progressivism

The fins of Cthulhu

with 8 comments

Here are four sentences. They have two interesting properties.

In short, you know not what you speak of. You reap the rewards of these women’s sacrifices every day of your life. When you grin with your cutsey (sic) sign about how you’re not a feminist, you ignorantly spit on the sacred struggle of the past 200 years. You bite the hand that has fed you freedom, safety, and a voice.

First of all: notice that word, ‘sacred’. That is a very revealing word. More Haidtian rhetorical analysis ought to be done—the two-foundation aspect of Haidt’s moral foundations theory is in accordance with what liberals like to think about themselves, but it’s probably not true. This could be demonstrated by follow-up studies with more carefully designed questionnaires (some of the questions on the other three axes serve as proxies for conservatism), though this may not be able to get around the problem of people answering in accordance with what they like to think, rather than what’s actually true—the practical workings of memeplexes may not be in accord with the internal views of those memeplexes held by their believers. But it’s easier to just point out the instances where liberals don’t talk like two-foundationers.

But the more interesting feature of those four sentences is that they’re an example of a common rhetorical tactic—especially from feminists, but political parties do it too. (“The party of Lincoln!”) The tactic is to, instead of arguing directly for the rightness/righteousness of an idea or the wrength/unrighteousness of opponents’ ideas, set up those qualities as inhering in factions (rather than ideas), in order to create the ability to argue for any position the faction supports (or against any position an opposing faction supports—”The Democrats were the party of slavery!”) by bleeding over the imbued historical quality of the faction onto the position.

…Except it’s even further removed than that.

The point isn’t to make points about factions that lead to arguments for positions; it’s to make points about factions that lead to identification with the faction. It’s not “feminism has historically done very good things, and therefore you should support the things feminism wants to do today”; it’s “feminism has historically done very good things, and therefore you should become a feminist”.

Of course, “movement X has historically done very good things” is indistinguishable from “movement X or something like it has gained enough power that you think the things it has historically done are very good”. Perceptions of morality aren’t formed in a void; they’re downstream from power.

Here we see a possible rhetorical mechanism for the ratchet. Not that there aren’t others, of course…

(This rhetorical tactic should be pattern-crystallized into a thing with a name, but I don’t know what to call it yet. Suggestions?)

Written by nydwracu

July 27, 2014 at 15:47

Posted in politics

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A case study in American Communism

with 6 comments

Born in 1945, Lee [Felsenstein] grew up in the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia, a neighborhood of row homes populated by first- and second-generation Jewish immigrants. His mother was the daughter of an engineer who had invented an important diesel fuel injector, and his father, a commercial artist, had worked in a locomotive plant. Later, in an unpublished autobiographical sketch, Lee would write that his father Jake “was a modernist who believed in the ‘perfectability’ of man and the machine as the model for human society. In play with his children he would often imitate a steam locomotive as other men would imitate animals.”

… His father Jake’s political adventures as a member of the Communist Party had ended in the mid-fifties when infighting led to Jake’s losing his post as district organizer, but politics were central to the family. Lee participated in marches on Washington, D.C. at the age of twelve and thirteen, and once picketed Woolworth’s in an early civil rights demonstration.

… After graduation, he went to the University of California at Berkeley to matriculate in Electrical Engineering. … He got … a work-study job at NASA’s Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, at the edge of the Mohave Desert. To Lee, it was admission to Paradise—the language people spoke there was electronics, rocket electronics, and the schematics he had studied would now be transmogrified into the stuff of science fiction come alive. … Then, after two months of that “seventh heaven,” as he later called it, he was summoned to a meeting with a security officer.

The officer seemed ill at ease. He was accompanied by a witness to the proceedings. The officer kept notes and had Lee sign each page as he finished it. He also had the form Lee had filled out upon entering Edwards, Security Form 398. The officer kept asking Lee if he knew anyone who was a member of the Communist Party. And Lee kept saying no. Finally he asked, in a gentle voice, “Don’t you understand that your parents were Communists?”

Lee had never been told. He had assumed that “Communist” was just a term—red-baiting—that people flung at activist liberals like his parents. His brother had known—his brother had been named after Stalin!—but Lee had not been told. He had been perfectly honest when he filled out Form 398 with a clear “no” on the line that asked if you knew any known Communists.

Steven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution

Written by nydwracu

May 18, 2013 at 04:29

Posted in politics

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Whitecloaks of the world, unite!

with 3 comments

America, as we all know, is a global force for good. The tricolor flies from San Francisco to Samarkand, manufacturing justice and theologians thereof, exegesizing Enlightenment from Nozick to Nietzsche, assimilating all they can’t erase. The Children of the Light march ever onward toward their millennium, striking terror into the hearts of those few heathens who weren’t true believers all along. Is Confucianism compatible with democracy, or must it be brushed aside? Embrace, extend… could not Ballmer have led our battalion?

Kyrgyzstan rejoices at Allied command.  The Minotaur grows ever larger; the Minotaur must feed. Are there not those who seek nothing more than to ride it, to see the seas part at their command? Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Power is a crocodile pond, breeding the sharp-toothed and bloodthirsty. Thedesmen to the core, lining the halls with white cloaks and red fangs, chanting the crocodile chant: “Our thede is the Allthede, and death to the elthedes! Our Truth is Truth, and death to the truth!”. Sing our song, hatchling: Ever onward, USG! Batch-processed priests carrying punch cards of neutered Nietzsches, sham-philosophers slinging Sorbonne-stamped sham-hammers, critical theories criticizing only the already criticized. But you see—they Know! They Know what is Right! They Know, and they Know that some people Know, and some people don’t—some people are saved and others are damned, predestined to a justly deserved curb-stomping delivered by the steel-toed boot of the Lord.

All hail the Kyrgyz Christmas! All hail the four-year mass: will the next pope be Protestant, or will he be just? And above all, hail the Minotaur and the saddle on which we may ride; we, crusaders for justice; we, who forsake truth for Truth; we, who know that the ends justify the means—and we for whom the means are the ends. Covenant? What covenant? Given a chance to control the sword and the arm of the Lord, does it matter what the Lord believes? Our bloodlust, our Truth-lust must be sated, and no elthede may be spared—remember this, comrades, for tonight we ride! Onward, ever onward must the sham-hammers ride, these legendary weapons forged by Zarathustra, the legendary hero cured of his madness by East England’s best psychologists, cured of his evil desires by Satan unchained—onward under the glorious banner of the critical, under our Christian caricatures of neutered Nietzsches to crush the pagans of the dead God in the name of the alive and emancipated Devil—for once the saints’ scales fall from your eyes, you will see…

But have you not already seen? How, you damned pagan? Satan was good all along!—good but enchained by the gross God of the pagans and pederasts, the black mages of order, the liars of truth, the bourgeois moralizers balking at means. When the end is the eschaton—what means could stand in its way? We moralists must curse the moralists, we crocodiles must massacre—the ends justify the means, yes, but the means are the ends! We Whitecloaks are forever cloaked in white, forever destined to crush the kulaks… forever destined for the salvations of our time! Hail the Sword and the Arm of the Lord! Hail the shadow-inquisition, conducted at the furthest remove, dressed up in the bland grey suits of Vogon democracy. Hail the honorless, for honor has nothing to offer the world, for knights know nothing of responsibilityremind me, hatchling, was it King Arthur who proclaimed the thousand-year Reich? But today we are not so loud, so obvious; we white wizards will hide in the shadows of narrative, in postmodernism’s parasols…

The sovereign is the story, you see. God is dead and truth went with him. All that remains is what must be done. Justice must reign. Bypasses must be built. Prostetnics must not only be obeyed, but carry imperiumyou must love your prostetnic, you must feel no doubt, down to your core—your unprincipled exceptions must remain not only unprincipled, but also unrecognized, not even by yourself. The hammers of justice will build the walls around your eyes, and you will be enlightened. The crushing force of righteousness will sweep away all petty anti-universalism, will make all men the same, grey Vogon power-junkies shooting up by shooting down Abercrombie CEOs and their savage patchworks of personal responsibility. Responsibility is ours, not theirs! Responsibility is a property of governments, not people! Better to force the world to conform to the base and righteous instincts of animalized and atomized apes of the Allthede, all in the service of freedom, than for fat chicks to stop being fat. Don’t judge—judgment carries with it standards outside those of mere power, and power is the only end, the ultimate aphrodisiac, the best high on this sclerotic earth. Against state-run media, against the fascisms and Stalinisms corrupted by their desire of inferior ends, we proclaim the media-run state, the meat-puppet democracy that passes power to those who enlighten.

The hammers!—no, the sham-hammers, mass-produced by our Catholith’s masters, our Englishmen gathered from all corners of the earth, our feathered philosophasters everywhere illuminating indigenous Foucauldianism, the defenders of the blood, the crushers of the kulaks’ skulls—weapons, above all, of defense, of diversion. All strikes against society must be redirected to the enemy—for as long as they exist, our problems are theirs, and when they are crushed, they will be recreated. Eternal Emmanuel Goldsteins ever holding power, the power of existing in our world. We will reign for a thousand years in a fortress of mirrors; our strategies will be our enemies’; even our fortress itself will be theirs. See them now, building false oppositions, building threats against the population, to cement their vile reign!

But one thing we can never mirror. Their hammers must become ours. Some are born with true hammers in their hands, you see—unwashed and long-haired, gross and badly dressed, driven by demons to see and smash the invisible castle of the sophisticated men, the tasteful, the civilized, to reverse the world again and fight for oppression. These False hammers lust not for skulls, but for falsehood to smash. Evil wizards, appearing as satanists in the thrall of a dead and false God, enchaining the world in the name of their demons, wielding the black light of the truly critical; grim reapers casting out our illusory sickles, revealing the naked force of our sham-hammers as we are forced to wield them… this destruction, this death of our lie-built castle, must be stopped—and if we must (as we must!), we will divert those who can be diverted, save those who can be saved, co-opt them into false oppositions for us to attack… and as for the others, those who are truly damned, we will cast off our bland robes, our now-useless overclothes of bland red and grey, and with the full force of the naked Sword, we will paint a righteous picture with their blood.

Written by nydwracu

May 10, 2013 at 19:24

Guest post: Pthag on the history of SA politics

with 11 comments

No, not that SA.


Nydwracu asked me to write a post about the politics of Something Awful because apparently it has suddenly became relevant to him. I think it’s a good week for this sort of thing, and similar insights must be occurring to people everywhere — earlier today, to my surprise, I discovered that God had not yet delivered His planned lesson on Chechnya to Amerika in His usual magisterial way. I asked somebody in Boston if this were really the case, and he replied “No, we’ve all seen Goldeneye“. Now I’m not sure there even *are* any Chechnyans in Goldeneye and if there were, then he agreed that this would only be like the sort of lesson our [fat, Scottish, nerdy [Wars, not Trek]] teacher gave by saying “I’m supposed to be teaching you about Robert the Bruce today but fuck it, we’re watching Braveheart.” — Nobody really pays attention and if it’s on the final exam it needs to be taught again.

I got the movie version of Something Awful politics, and writing this feels enough like a final exam to worry me a little, so I should begin by listing caveats: I never really posted there, but found it an interesting enough diversion during University that I followed it somewhat during its most politically relevant time, which is to say between the 2008 election [or whichever the one with the Ron Paul dirigible was] and halfway through my degree, so I suppose between 2007 and 2010.

The other big caveat is that like our host, I don’t like politics and consider it a character flaw that I am interested in what little politics does interest me. I don’t like the people who get involved in politics, I don’t like how they think and I break out in fists at the thought of having to work with them. I don’t like much that I see. In the fashionable neo-theosophical language of the Orthosphere, I am a Thal [purestrain TT, amud-type] and everyone in this story has melopepocephalic ancestry or tendencies. This is Internet extremist politics, and if you read this blog you probably have some first-hand experience of what that entails — all the worst parts of activism, academia and 4chan combined. It is about *personalities* and their flaws and the stakes are negligible, resulting in a kind of primate politics that can’t even be called that by means of implying it is in some way healthy, or natural — at least, I hope not. I only paid attention to it in an impressionistic sort of way and indeed my natural inclination is to see the world in terms of demons and angels, us and them, and I wander around it with uncorrected myopia, living in a Monet picture. This is wise for anyone with an overgrown sensitivity lobe [which interpreted is “bigeye”] in postindustrial England, and so it is on the Internet. There will be few ugly characters in this narrative, though in consensus reality that is pretty much all there was.

Everyone has their own stratigraphy of the Internet which reflects their own history with it. I myself regard the Internet before 1997 as a Paleozoic world full of creatures endowed with an Edenic elegance and an unfinished roughness, containing most of the basic, molecular diversity necessary for the later flowering, but not fully realised. I admire this age very much, and contemplating the remains of their beautiful, austere web-pages, where the headshots of academics were hidden behind a hyperlink to give you time to brace yourself, and where there were news items with dates as far back as the 1980s fills me with the same meditative calm of studying paleontology. We enter the Mesozoic when proles like your author found out about the Internet and the Cenozoic began in 2005 along with Youtube.

Something Awful is fundamentally a Mesozoic website (founded in 1999), which survives into the Cenozoic, and I suppose [given that this an impressionist narrative etc etc] the politics in this essay could fairly be characterised as “transitional”. Something Awful [henceforth SA] is mostly famous for producing many Internet memes, back when they were still called “image macros” [a SA term] and is organised on the phpBB + auxilliary IRC Bauplan which flourished in the Mesozoic. It was more or less politically indistinguishable from the rest of the Internet until the lead up to the 2008 election, when the Internet fell in love with Ron Paul, and various kinds of Paulist clogged up their politics forum “Debate and Discussion”. This pissed off the administrators of SA and they set up a subforum “Laissez’s Faire” [henceforth LF] to concentrate them together. SA’s moderators are famously authoritarian, and everyone agreed that this was a good thing and not at all unusual.

If this were an Adam Curtis documentary, I’d cut to talk about Moldbug who posted his Formalist Manifesto and started Unqualified Reservations during this time, but I only became aware of him well afterwards, so I don’t know if there were any connections, or anybody noticing him, but through him I learnt about Conquest’s Second Law, which describes the fate of LF very well. Libertarians are both very a) wrong and b) on the Internet and so people swarmed to attack them, which they did with valour. To give them their due, these Paultards were the hardy pioneers they imagine themselves to be in their fantasies and their rotting bodies provided sustenance for the successor species, which were ugly in their own way. I didn’t pay much attention at this part, although it did inspire me to read Atlas Shrugged [never again] and *almost* inspired me to enter the official Ayn Rand Institute essay contest [the prizes are really fucking good: several grand, some of them — if you’re still in college and have a strong stomach or even, God help you, a taste for Objectivism then you should look into entering].

So after them came the Left proper, who quickly [the timescale from start to end is really only a couple of years] formed a climax community rich in niches. Such a prodigious supply of carrion attracts more and bigger crocodiles and when you consider that SA is officially a “humor” website, this can only lead to crocodile humour. Which it did — SA had another forum called “Helldump”, a sort of School of the Internets where Internet skinheads learnt to identify, mock and dox their enemies in a supportive environment. It was ugly, and I couldn’t bear to read it, but many LF posters did, and some took part. In some ways, I suspect this is the most lasting political legacy of LF: political because they tended to call themselves Maoists, and displayed most of the pathologies which you find in western Maoists who do not have to worry about things like “how to run farms” and “party discipline” and “where do we get the guns from” and so they could *really* get down to the basis of revolutionary praxis: identifying class enemies and humiliating them by calling them neckbeard faggots; Lasting, because they still exist, and are up to their old tricks. This is an ugly business, and I paid little attention to it. I am sure there was a lot more attention paid, but Nydwracu can find somebody else for that. It can only be uglier now.

But there were decent people there too. I say this as somebody who, at the time, was a Communist and is presently a Fascist, but still think this. There was a reading group who read Deleuze and Guattari together, producing strange diagrams reminiscent of plant organelles, claiming to illustrate rhizomaticity. One fellow [okay, I said no characters, but this story resonates with me and I don’t remember his name] was an Amerikan soldier, who told LF how he broke down in tears when he arrived back home from a tour of duty. It seems he found himself in a supermarket, in the toothpaste aisle, and felt himself overcome by the sheer *diversity* of dentifrices available there. I’ve often felt something similar coming into overlit 24-hr supermarkets after a long nighttime walk. There was one clique of depressives, calling themselves “sadbrains” who told stories familiar to anybody of melancholic temperament, or worse, in this degenerate late capitalist age. They somehow got a counterpart to “Helldump” set up called “Lovedump” and it didn’t really seem cloying at all. I hope they all have cliques surviving as well as the crocodiles, but I doubt it. I don’t think they could hate well enough and relied too much on love. But it wasn’t like tumblr — there were some tumblrish elements to it [I think “marxoteen” is a LF term, and a good one] but at the same time, there were enough real Leftists there to recognise that Social Justice people are ridiculous no matter whether or not you prefer Lenin to Mussolini.

The most remarkable character was “TobleroneTriangular” who persisted for months in writing long, rambling posts in a Paultardian style — walls of insanity about natural rights and basing money on “purestrain gold”. Purestrain gold, apparently, is a kind of gold created during the Big Bang, rather than in later nucleosynthesis, and so possesses a certain property rendering it especially beneficial for currency. This diagram was his: http://i.somethingawful.com/u/docevil/ff/00100107/helldump1.gif Eventually he became part of the background noise until one day he admitted that he was trolling and that for months he had been writing this nonsense all as part of a character. I think he turned out to be a mild-mannered left-liberal. He is the greatest troll that I know of.

It didn’t last. There were informants, and I really think it was at one point one of the biggest forums of genuine revolutionary thought on the Internet [which is, depending on how open or opposed I am to Left-Right unity against Liberal scum, either immensely depressing or immensely cheering]. Somebody, one of the crocodiles, made a post about plotting to kill Obama, which was either noticed by Secret Service agents watching the website or given to them by some informant. The Secret Service are autistic about this sort of thing, in any case, and so they send messages to Lowtax [the operator of SA] warning him that This Shit is Unacceptble. I think Lowtax is more or less apolitical, but with some Right-Liberal leanings, and it pissed him off that he was getting in official trouble for a corner of his forum that he cared little for, a corner which, furthermore, saw great fun in trying to piss off regulars of other subfora, especially those about the military and guns. The moderation went from being authoritarian to being farcical and talk turned to how much further LF would last. In the event, it wasn’t much longer. After a couple of months of tension, LF was taken off the main list of forums, and then locked shut. With LF taking all the Leftists out of the main Debate and Discussion forum, it had become more rigidly autistic and debate-clubby and loathsome and liberal, and LF refugees found no friends there. There were some successor forums, but I don’t really know what became of them. I know of two: One of them, WDDP, became a hub for crocodilism, and one of them, the Rhizzone, is, I think, filled with the more sensitive sorts, but I have stopped paying attention.

The IRC component lasted longer, and for all I know still exists. I think it was always a vital part of LF, but I paid no attention to it until things started to fall apart. There I found Maximum Crocodile — middle class University Maoists on a full ride from Daddy, playing at Internet Antifa and other Melonhead political games of creating an ever-changing political context where what was safe one day was an excuse for an arseraping the next day. At one point, somebody discussing the “exploitation” of natural resources was met with shrieks of hilarity that somebody could be so concerned about the plight of the poor oil reserves and their oppression. That was enough.

I wish I could close this post by putting these events into some properly Cenozoic context, but I can’t. I’ve moved too far away from Leftism to give a fuck, and when the dam broke, what value that was made visible by virtue of being stored in a major Mesozoic reservoir ran away into the Internet-in-general. Perhaps those streams can be traced to see if they just ran away into rocky wasteland and thence to some sunless subterranean sea, or if they got trapped in aquifers where they are enriching — or poisoning — things quietly. If this essay illuminates anything latent in Cenozoic institutions like /pol/, or tumblr, or I don’t know what, that a reader was not aware of before, then I suppose this will not have been written in vain.

Written by nydwracu

April 21, 2013 at 15:15

Posted in politics

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Voice, exit, and the Catholic question

with 16 comments

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has set off a rat-feast among the talking-head class. No event of such newsworthiness can be left unbloviated about; in an age of comment toward clicks, the cycle of the commentariat is the news cycle. (I’ve observed this pattern myself; talking about recent events brings me more hits than anything except perhaps talking about things that can be even tangentially connected to Stormfront—regardless of what position I take. There is surely some meaning one could draw from this, but I won’t try now.) And given the subject matter of this particular Golden Age of the lightspeed news-cycle, this event-over-events, the inevitable but unfortunate question has again been raised—the Catholic question.

The Catholic question? An odd question indeed, for this enlightened, tolerant era! Have we not become different from the age of the Know-Nothings and the Orange Riots? The Catholic question, like Marx’s Jewish question, Carlyle’s Negro question—are these not artifacts of a past century? The past, as we all know, is foreign to us, the ever more enlightened riders of the Weltgeist’s progression toward the eschaton. Who has not experienced that sense of vague unease upon first learning that a philosopher taken seriously up to the present day wrote an essay cited up to the present day on—a Question? These Questions, these eldritch horrors crawling up from the elle rīċe of the past—no, no, surely these are ellend, exiled from our nation-in-time to the miserable past, the Elendreich

But despite our mythology of accumulated temporal foreignness as the inexorable wheels of progress drive us from the Elendreich to the New Jerusalem, the Questions carry on. Not as Questions, of course—in an age of lies, as perhaps all ages are, all that matters lies at the furthest remove—but as nameless non-entities, nameless because natural. Names are power; is this not the essence of wizardry?—and light magic works in the shadows, building its bases from cracks in the semantic fabric. Aspiring Sith Lords must learn the unnatural art of naming the nameless, of drawing maps in the no-territory to shine the black light of the Devil on these divine voids.

And is it so impossible that there might be such a Question? After all, Anti-Catholicism has a centuries-long history; what could drive such historically-minded people as the white wizards of our age, the carriers-on of a rigorously monastic tradition of no-tradition, to overlook it? Revolutionary France held priests in chains in prison ships! Surely at least the peddlers of black-Beethoven fables could confabulate a fitting legend, were they so inclined… but they are not. Why not? (Catholicism, as per Catholicism, must remain Catholic; would it make sense to ask that question of blackness, or some other weaponized group identity? Unlikely; blackness, to the dismay of professors everywhere, does not carry necessary doctrinal content, whereas Catholicism does, and that doctrine, unlike the doctrines of certain Protestant sects, does not fall cleanly in line with either progressivism or the interests of capital and their organized false-opposition. Catholicism seems to be unique in this, at least in the West; Judaism seems similar, albeit much less so and much less solidly, and is accordingly less vilified by the mainstreams of both factions. And yes, Catholicism is vilified: why is it that everyone knows and cares about the Catholic rape scandal but not the college rape scandal? I learned about the latter from @FuckTheory, who has also talked at length about the former, and he is not unusual in displaying a clear hatred of Catholics but not of colleges.)

Now—what is this Catholic question?

Consider that old stock phrase: “Is the pope Catholic?” Now perform the Rawlsian reversal: “Should the pope be Catholic?” Rajiv Malhotra answers in the negative:

Given the power of the Vatican, the choice of a new pope will impact people of all faiths, not just Catholics. Whenever there is a change of national leadership in the USA, China, Russia or other large country, it gets discussed and debated by people of all countries because it impacts everyone. Unfortunately, the discussions surrounding the change of the pope have been largely limited to the internal issues within the Catholic Church. I’d like to argue that this transition into a new papacy presents a historic opportunity to change the world in a significant way for the better. All of us, including non-Christians, are stakeholders in this conversation. …

If the Vatican would drop claims of exclusivity over religious truth, and reexamine dogmas such as the Nicene Creed, it would pressure other denominations of Christianity to follow suit. The Vatican, after all, is the single largest corporate institution of any religion in the world. The moral pressure on others would be huge if the Pope were to champion a new world order among all faiths in earnest, and not as a gimmick to increase his own flock.

If the Vatican would drop claims of exclusivity over religious truth! But is this claim not central to Catholicism? Is it not the slightest bit curious that a non-Catholic sees fit to argue that the Catholic Church should no longer be Catholic? Why is this?

What, one might ask, is Rajiv Malhotra’s religion? It is clearly not Catholicism; but is it catholic? Does it claim universality? But then—what is religion? This may seem to the unattentive reader like pointless semanticizing, but in reality, it is black magic, learned straight from a Sith Lord.

For atheists of the all-around variety – including me – the question remains. Why do we believe in “religion?”

One obvious answer is that we have to share the planet with a lot of religious people. If you are an atheist, there is no getting around it: religion, as per Dawkins, is a delusion. Deluded people do crazy things and are often dangerous. We need to have a category for these people, just as we have a category for “large, man-eating carnivores.” Certainly, religious violence has killed a lot more people lately than lions, tigers, or bears.

This argument sounds convincing, but it hides a fallacy.

The fallacy is that the distinction between “religion” and other classes of delusion must be clarifying or important. If there is a case for this proposition, we haven’t met it yet.

So: what is religion? In an age of the furthest remove, can we trust our inherited categories? Rajiv Malhotra is Hindu, but if we have seen Protestant Catholics, Protestant Jews, and Protestant Muslims, is a Protestant Hindu that much of a stretch? Or—what is more important as a distinction: the group Malhotra identifies himself with, or the spells he chants? Is Rajiv Malhotra’s ideography Hindu? Does it strike you, you who likely live in a Protestant society, as elþēodiġ? Do you get the same feeling from it that you do from reading op-eds written by Maoists, Nazis, North Korean sympathizers (for whom, sadly, no adjective exists, besides the horrendously bulky official rendering Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist), and so on? Well, no, probably not. The Huffington Post is, after all, one of the most popular online news sources in the United States. What is popular in one’s own thede is not elþēodiġ.

Malhotra criticizes Catholics and Lutherans for claiming the duty to evangelize, to preach that their way is the only way and that those of other religions ought to abandon their beliefs and accept the contradictory ones of Catholicism or Lutheranism; but, in preaching that Catholics and Lutherans ought to abandon their beliefs and accept the contradictory one of ‘mutual respect’, is he not doing the same thing? This is the paradox of tolerance: it is not an absence of doctrine, but a doctrine in itself, and one that claims universality—that is, tolerance is catholic. Although Malhotra does not appear to understand this, Herbert Marcuse did:

The uncertainty of chance in this distinction does not cancel the historical objectivity, but it necessitates freedom of thought and expression as preconditions of finding the way to freedom–it necessitates tolerance. However, this tolerance cannot be indiscriminate and equal with respect to the contents of expression, neither in word nor in deed; it cannot protect false words and wrong deeds which demonstrate that they contradict and counteract the’ possibilities of liberation. Such indiscriminate tolerance is justified in harmless debates, in conversation, in academic discussion; it is indispensable in the scientific enterprise, in private religion. But society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence, where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here, certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed, certain behavior cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servitude. …

Tolerance of free speech is the way of improvement, of progress in liberation, not because there is no objective truth, and improvement must necessarily be a compromise between a variety of opinions, but because there is an objective truth which can be discovered, ascertained only in learning and comprehending that which is and that which can be and ought to be done for the sake of improving the lot of mankind. …

With respect to historical violence emanating from among ruling classes, no … relation to progress seems to obtain. The long series of dynastic and imperialist wars, the liquidation of Spartacus in Germany in 1919, Fascism and Nazism did not break but rather tightened and streamlined the continuum of suppression. I said emanating ‘from among ruling classes’: to be sure, there is hardly any organized violence from above that does not mobilize and activate mass support from below; the decisive question is, on behalf of and in the interest of which groups and institutions is such violence released? And the answer is not necessarily ex post: in the historical examples just mentioned, it could be and was anticipated whether the movement would serve the revamping of the old order or the emergence of the new.

Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word. … In past and different circumstances, the speeches of the Fascist and Nazi leaders were the immediate prologue to the massacre. The distance between the propaganda and the action, between the organization and its release on the people had become too short. But the spreading of the word could have been stopped before it was too late: if democratic tolerance had been withdrawn when the future leaders started their campaign, mankind would have had a chance of avoiding Auschwitz and a World War.

The whole post-fascist period is one of clear and present danger. Consequently, true pacification requires the withdrawal of tolerance before the deed, at the stage of communication in word, print, and picture. Such extreme suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if the whole of society is in extreme danger. I maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation, and that it has become the normal state of affairs. … The small and powerless minorities which struggle against the false consciousness and its beneficiaries must be helped: their continued existence is more important than the preservation of abused rights and liberties which grant constitutional powers to those who oppress these minorities. It should be evident by now that the exercise of civil rights by those who don’t have them presupposes the withdrawal of civil rights from those who prevent their exercise, and that liberation of the Damned of the Earth presupposes suppression not only of their old but also of their new masters.

Liberation of the Damned of the Earth! If this isn’t catholic, what is?

I cannot, of course, oppose the existence of catholic doctrine; it has been around for at least two thousand years, and shows no signs of disappearing. What I object to is unconscious catholicism. Malhotra shows no sign of realizing that he is arguing that the pope shouldn’t be Catholic.

Even better examples exist, although their religious undercurrents remain seemingly unnoticed by the authors. Take this, from a college op-ed site:

Altogether in the U.S. Congress, women hold 18 percent of the leadership positions that help to govern our country. Even in other countries, women hold leadership roles as high as presidents. So with all of this being seen, I think it is time for the Catholic Church to recognize women as more than just simple, obedient nuns that serve within the church.

The idea of the Cardinals selecting a female pope is fairly unrealistic, but it is an amazing idea. The Cardinals need to progress right along with the rest of the world, and women deserve a fair chance at major titles such as these. Having a female be selected as pope shows that the Catholic Church supports, not only the rights of their congregation to freely practice their religion, but also the rights of women across the world to be able to reach the goals they may have set for themselves.

This also will give a major sense of equality to women within the church; not only those who may hold leadership positions, but also to the women of their congregation.

Rights! Equality! This is easily recognized as the language of the Huffington Post, and the other organs of the Cathedral. Is the Post Catholic? What is the purpose of the Catholic Church—to promote rights and equality, or to be Catholic? Why are so many non-Catholic writers writing sentences of the form “the next pope must…”? Certainly, catholicism can pose a serious threat to pluralism, but what catholic threat is Catholicism compared to the Cathedral? Especially when there are ‘Catholics’ who display more knowledge of the doctrine of the Cathedral than they do of Catholicism!

It would also be good to have a church that offers some ethical and moral leadership to the wider world. Views on things like climate change, war and peace, the present capitalist economic model and poverty would all be welcome contributions to the public discourse, rather than lectures on gay marriage. …

What is for sure is that more of the same will not do. A new pope who continues the backward approach of recent pontiffs will simply be one who continues to manage the decline of an institution that remains out of date for many in the 21st century.

Backward! Out of date! Would we not wonder about a self-proclaimed Protestant who talks about Vishnu?

(Of course, one may be a doctrinal Vishnuite in a Protestant thede, but the reverse is much more likely. Moldbug’s Protestant Muslims are doctrinal Protestants and thedish Muslims: they think about the world in a Protestant way from within a Muslim ingroup. Thede also gives us the term elthede—less unwieldy (albeit more opaque) substitutions for ingroup and outgroup respectively.)

But to return to the point. I am not Catholic, and neither can I presume that what little I know is of sufficient quality to grant me cause to be catholic; but how can anyone else? Malhotra presumes such for himself, but he appears not even to realize it; and neither do any of the other op-ed writers. I cannot say what the next pope must do, and neither can any priest of the Cathedral; and this is because the next pope must be Catholic.

Malhotra disagrees:

If anyone questions the propriety of my raising this issue on the grounds that I am an outsider to the Catholic Church, let me simply say that as a world citizen I am a stakeholder in the outcome of this process. I do not think the Vatican can continue to operate with respect and legitimacy if it fails to attend to voices such as mine.

As a world citizen! The concept of world citizenship leads naturally to the progressive antithesis of the Moldbuggian thesisto all voice, no exitin a word, to democracy. The world is that from which there is no exit.

Written by nydwracu

March 5, 2013 at 16:53

Lena Dunham, queen of the zombies; or: why progressivism is not a religion

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You’ve probably seen this already, but Lena Dunham, the writer for some SWPL show, starred in an Obama campaign ad comparing voting to sex.

This ad makes one thing clear: Christopher Lasch was right. Progressive zombieism is fueled by pathological narcissism.

In a dying society, perhaps in any society not deserving the term in its strictest sense, one can expect weakness. In weakness, there is the desire for a way out of it; but to find an authentic way out, a path toward true merit and merit-recognition, requires the very strength the absence of which marks a zombie-to-be. The shortcut is to sublimate oneself into a collective, alpha over sigma, Lena Dunham over Don Colacho, the rule of cool. Cool is that which brings merit-recognition without merit. Zombies will always look favorably upon other zombies. Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.

A mediocre-at-best media nitwit zombifies into the face of a generation. We are cool, you are not. “Tons of flesh,” the blaring purple signs assert. “We have tons of human flesh. Will you resist us? Our meat and bone and hair and tooth will fall, and crush you.” We are the Zeitgeist, we are the media, we are the cool. Watch the tone: Lena Dunham is no religious fanatic. Her manner is that of a five-star zombie, someone at the top of a hierarchy, someone who knows they’re at the top of a hierarchy, and that that hierarchy is at the top of the meta-hierarchy. She is animated not by religious conviction, but by the smug coolness of the success-actor. Swag. Televangelists don’t have swag.

To illustrate the point further, consider the internet communist. Their methods of attack are that of the schoolyard. The distinction between blasphemy and uncool is admittedly subtle, but it exists: blasphemy implies a core conviction, a perceived Knowledge of Truth, and one could use it as a charge were one the last man to Know it. Uncool is just that: uncool. Uncool is a violation of not a truth-norm, but a social norm, a ton of human flesh, a jackboot upside the head of the shitnerd too douchey and bad to accept the norms. Blasphemy is Plato; uncool is Protagoras. Wrong vs. bad, blasphemer vs. douche, heretic vs. gross insect. Wracked by the depression of meritlessness (we really need a less clunky word for that; how about anaxia?), the anaxic (hah, see what you can do with these things!) zombifies into coffeeshop politics, theory as social game, coolness as truth. The brotherhood of man rested on common weakness and frailty. Religion can be painful; religion can demand sacrifice; religion can be uncool; but the coffeeshop cannot. The suffering inflicted by coffeeshop-theory involves interaction outside the coffeeshop. This is the difference between a religion and a cult.

Progressivism, with its emphasis on communal solutions, is particularly suited to the coffeeshop: regardless of the truth of their claims, individualists—at least, those who avoid the cultlike absurdities of movements like Objectivism—tend to be stronger people. Part of this is because individualism is uncool, but part is in the nature of the thing. Han Solo could never be an internet communist.

It’s super uncool to not vote. Right there in the video! Before, I was a girl; now I am a woman. Become cool. Obama is cool. Sex is cool. Lena Dunham is cool. Vote Obama because he is cool. Doing otherwise is super uncool. You wouldn’t want to be like these conservative freaks, now would you?

Written by nydwracu

October 30, 2012 at 16:20

Posted in politics

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Links and comments: corrupt colleges, democracy as America-hater, and more

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  • Why colleges cost too much. I’m still not convinced that Griggs v. Duke Power Co. isn’t irrelevant. “Throughout the ’80s … parents came increasingly to feel that a college education was a necessity, a direct conduit to a high-paying job,” but why? No word from Time. But it is clear that market failure also plays a large role: in theory, prospective buyers will research products before purchasing them, to find the best value, but in practice, whether due to signaling or simple ignorance, they don’t. Combine that with a high cost of entry, price fixing, and the creation of (perceived?) necessity of the product at hand, and this is what you get.
  • PG County goes white? I might have been wrong about it. On the other hand, I have the benefit of actual experience in the county, unlike the lead author. I suspect that what happened in my area is roughly the same as what happened in Hyattsville and “Old Greenbelt”, wherever the hell that is: Hispanics moved in during the housing bubble and trashed the area, whites moved out,  the market crashed, and most of the Hispanics got foreclosed on and booted out, leaving behind relatively large suburban houses with obscenely low cost. And it’s important to remember that PG County is one of the richest majority-black counties in the country; some areas are like inner-city DC, but some aren’t, and my area has less of a drug problem than Carroll County. Most of the problems I’ve run across are in the public school system, which the new crop of whites appears to be avoiding. (And no matter how much the PG County situation ends up bruising my ego, at least I was still right about Montgomery.)
  • Think Progress throws a fit over Scalia citing laws they don’t like. That’s not how law works, but for them, there’s no such thing as ‘law’, merely another form of politics.
  • Speaking of the conflation of law and politics, Andrew Purcell must not read what he writes. (via Volokh) He says (more specifically, arranges quotes to convey the message that) “Republicans, unlike Democrats, understand that the court is a partisan body,” and that “Republican officials have understood for a long time that because judges serve for life and there’s no mechanism to remove them, if you can get your people into the judiciary it gives you an ability to push politically unpopular agendas that would not pass in Congress”, but then mentions that the Warren Court “ruled that segregation was unconstitutional, prohibited mandatory prayers at state schools and established a constitutional right to privacy. Between 1962 and 1969, the court struck down 17 acts of Congress.” So, the Warren Court pushes politically unpopular agendas that most likely would not have passed in Congress, with laughably ridiculous reasoning (Emanations! Penumbras! Who are they, the King’s theologians? Er, well…), but it’s Republicans, unlike Democrats who understand that the court is a partisan body. Maybe technically, but  not even a lawyer could pull off that level of willful denseness.
  • Why do Muslims hate America? “Competing national politicians.” In other words, politics. In other other words… (I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on their data sometime, and see if the other other words are right.)
  • What was the largest ethnic cleansing in recent history? And would you ever hear about it in school?
  • I started reading about American drug policy on finding out that USG owns a patent on medical use of cannabinoids. (Closer examination reveals that THC is excluded because of “undesired psychotropic side effects”.) Completely unsurprisingly, Schedule I is absurd, as even its Wikipedia page reveals: pholcodine, “a weak opioid cough suppressant with negligible abuse potential which is available over-the-counter in many other countries,” is scheduled, but DMT isn’t, and LSD apparently has no legitimate medical use. Of course, drug policy, like most other policy, serves a purpose other than that which it claims to serve (and doesn’t actually serve its claimed purpose at all!), so it would be odd if it did make sense toward its claimed purpose. (As a side note, Robert Anton Wilson, in Cosmic Trigger, reports that one therapist had success in ‘treating’ homosexuality with three sessions of LSD therapy. Someday I’ll dig up the source, and, if it checks out, send a copy to every Republican politician in the country, just to watch their heads explode.)

Written by nydwracu

June 26, 2012 at 13:28


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