How about actually throwing out the bathwater?
August 23, 2014 § 31 Comments
No society gets everything wrong all the time. There are good and glorious things about Islamic society, despite the beheadings, the dancing in the streets at the scene of American civilians falling from burning skyscrapers, and other pervasive and wicked monomania. And there are good and glorious things about liberal societies, despite the medical waste bins full of human body parts sacrificed in the name of free love, wholesale destruction of family and childhood in the name of female emancipation, and other pervasive viciousness.
But the fact that nobody gets everything wrong all the time does not justify clinging to lies. This is as true of liberalism – politics which makes freedom a political priority, thereby creating an implicit or explicit demand for equal rights, insisting on rule that pretends not to rule in order to protect the fragile individualistic egos of “meritocratic” modern men – as it is of Mohammedism.
The individual cannot – apodictically cannot – be the fundamental unit of politics. Politics is always and necessarily a matter of controvertible cases involving multiple people. If a person were literally alone on a distant planet there would be no politics. Politics exists only in a social context — a context of multiple people and multiple possibilities about what could be done, that is, controvertible cases. Even when everyone happens to agree about what to do there are still always other possibilities: all political action is in principle controvertible. Actually choosing one possibility over others is never a neutral decision, even in those rare cases where everyone involved happens to share the same view; so the distinction between positive rights and negative rights is illusory as something distinct from the good.
“Leaving people alone” has to start from a position of already presuming to know the entitlements of the parties in controvertible cases. When Bob insults Harry and Harry punches him in the mouth, who is entitled to what? Positivist attempts to politically demarcate between the individual and society don’t work: for example moderns tend to think of property as a matter of a man and his stuff in isolation, but in reality property is a relation of multiple people: authority, objects, owners and subjects.
Liberalism’s view of society and politics is wrong. It is a lie, a terrifically wicked and destructive lie. We can either throw out the bathwater or wallow in filth.
The prescription pad as politically correct authority
August 22, 2014 § 10 Comments
When it comes to mental illness and mood, we have to acknowledge that a small percentage of people are not fit to look after themselves. They need constant adult supervision or else they will become a danger to themselves and/or others.
But modernity values freedom – personal autonomy – above all else, which is actually why our politics becomes so tyrannical; and the idea of grown human beings placed under the authority of other flawed human beings is anathema.
Enter the prescription pad. Even though a drug like alcohol objectively has a similar profile of risks and benefits for improving mood to other drugs, it is unsuitable because it cannot be an instrument of social control. So the use of alcohol to improve mood must be frowned upon, even though going on a bender with the boys to get over a bad breakup might be a healthy thing to do, within limits. A war must be waged on strong psychotropics on one front; while on another front psychotropics must be brought under the supervision of experts, and heaven help you if you ‘go off your meds’ even when they make you feel awful and destroy your health.
So the sociological purpose of the prescription pad is twofold. One of its key functions is to place you under authority while pretending not to place you under authority. The other key function is to control the information flow and narrative around the use of psychotropic drugs. Naturally the ‘experts’ who wield this chemical power on behalf of the State would rather you didn’t see it that way.
The genie is already out of the bottle when it comes to alcohol, so it cannot be used as a means of social control. With alcohol you are free to wake up from the bender, drink lots of water, take a few asprin, and get on with your life without carrying the subordinate label ‘mental patient’ into your future. And we can’t have that.
Ozymandias vs Beelzebub
August 19, 2014 § 42 Comments
Nature has a way of bringing the rule of particular men to an end every few decades. The mechanism is called Death.
Liberalism though doesn’t have an expiration date or an inherently limited lifespan.
Rule by particular men is inherently more resistant to tyranny than more abstracted or formalized systems of government for a whole variety of reasons. One of them is that nature ensures that a bad ruler is only around for a matter of decades.
But bad ideology can last indefinitely. Rule by demons has no expiration date.
So the next time someone complains about how hard it can be to get rid of a bad king, be sure to ask the question “compared to what?”
Blaming the prophets
August 18, 2014 § 14 Comments
One of the common postmodern hipster poses you will see around the blogosphere is the idea that because liberalism is triumphant, the traditionalists who warned us about liberalism and its consequences were ineffectual and wrong. For example the traditional natural law understanding of sexuality must be repressed and wrong, because if it were right then the sexual revolution would not have happened. The fact that society didn’t heed the warnings points to a flaw in the folks who were sounding the warning, not a flaw in society.
Be sure to remember that the next time you are thinking about throwing yourself off a cliff. If the people who were warning about that gravity thing knew what they were talking about, nobody would ever throw themselves off of cliffs. The majority is always right, and the god Evolution assures us that whatever actually happens is fittest.
I’ll drink to that
August 15, 2014 § 47 Comments
For someone who is depressed but doesn’t need immediate hospitalization, alcohol is a more effective and safer pharmacological treatment than antidepressants, if a drug is really necessary. It is better to avoid psychotropic remedies entirely; but if you are going to go there, at least do something that is a known quantity with a track record and a properly balanced social infrastructure.
Alcohol is something about which we have plentiful independent information: it isn’t caught in the vortex of economically motivated disinformation that David Healy exposes in Pharmageddon. Because its long term heavy use carries enough social stigma there is still some incentive not to get trapped in a situation of physical dependency, or to get out of one if you find yourself there. Nobody is going to stage an intervention to help you kick the SSRIs, but alcohol comes with some built in social mechanisms to help. Alcohol is quite effective at helping a person feel better in the short term, probably more effective than SSRIs; and it doesn’t come pre-packaged with a credentialed doctor who will hold you hostage to the prescription pad on the one side, and lecture you to keep drinking and not ‘go off your meds’ when you get to the point where the benefits are outweighed by detriments on the other. And nothing prevents you from having a qualified physician monitor your alcohol use.
So my advice to most people is that it is far safer to take up drinking than it is to see a psychiatrist, if you simply have to have a pharmacological remedy.
Antidepressants cause suicide and other violent, impulsive behavior
August 14, 2014 § 27 Comments
See also here (HT Andrew E. in the comments).
Game, sluttiness, and the corresponding propositions test
August 13, 2014 § 81 Comments
My understanding of Game is that it is essentially the male equivalent of slutty behavior. Not every kind of male inchastity is Game; but Game is, in its essence, male inchastity.
That is all ground we’ve covered here before. But in order to cut through the nominalist BS as it resurfaces it is useful to have a concrete test to apply. I’ve mentioned this in passing before, but it is worth highlighting just to make sure the horse is dead.
Game is demonstrably the male equivalent of slutty behaviour because for every proposition about Game there is a corresponding proposition about slutty behavior, and vice versa. “Corresponding” doesn’t mean perfectly identical, because man-woman is a complementarian reality. Specific technique will differ. But in the context of man-woman complementarian reality Game and slutty behavior are homomorphic, and this can be demonstrated in general by word substitution into propositions about either.
Here are a few examples of true corresponding statements:
- “Not all use of X is to fornicate”.
- “X is the use of psychological knowledge to influence the behavior of the opposite sex.”
- “X may not be for healthy relationships, but it is possible for it to catalyze change in a relationship that is in trouble.”
- “X is sometimes the most efficient means for someone to solve a particular problem.”
- “X is based in truths about the real nature of men and women.”
… and here are a few of examples of false corresponding statements:
- “X is nothing but the use of psychological techniques to influence the behavior of the opposite sex.”
- “X is a box of morally neutral tools.”
- “X is nothing but learned charisma.”
Idea — lets use entryist tactics against liberals: that will show them
August 12, 2014 § 11 Comments
Oh, that’s right.
There is already a group of people who think they can ‘agree and amplify’ liberalism’s revolutionary slogans and invest them via nominalist fiat with tradition and common sense to keep them nice and tame.
We call these people “conservatives”.
Political freedom is a concentrator of government power
August 12, 2014 § 218 Comments
We are frequently presented with the false dichotomy of either making freedom a political priority or supporting limitless concentrated government power. In fact this false dichotomy has things exactly backwards: making freedom a political priority (that is, liberalism) inherently concentrates government power.
In a healthy, functional society characterized by organic subsidiarity there are many constraints on individual choice coming from disparate authorities. There are also many constraints on various authorities themselves: constraints which arise from the fact that no one authority has monopolistic power over all spheres of life. Modern people immediately think of a king as a kind of all-powerful dictator, and that was probably even true of some of the late-stage Protestant ‘divine right’ monarchs; but in practice most pre-modern kings just happened to be the highest ranking individual aristocrat, and had less power qua individual than any two or three other high ranking aristocrats in coalition.
This isn’t an apologia for monarchy as much as it is a warning against the mind viruses that modernity uses to short circuit your thinking. By presenting you with a false alternative between liberalism and tyranny, liberalism always wins.
But the presumption in favor of individual freedom against the disparate authorities of organic subsidiarity creates an imperative for an ever more centralized government to override those authorities, in order to reduce constraints on individual freedom. Fire must be fought with fire: authority with a more concentrated authority.
A simple concrete example is the increasing intervention of government in marriage, since the traditional authority of a husband does in fact constrain the equal freedom of wives. That the wife may have entered the marriage voluntarily doesn’t fix the problem, when freedom is a prior commitment. Once you start to see how freedom concentrates government power in one domain, you see it happening everywhere.
So it is important not to permit liberals to distort your perceptions with this false dichotomy. Making freedom a political priority isn’t a tool against the concentration of government power. It is itself the engine driving concentration of government power.
They are all around me, and they don’t know they are liberals
August 11, 2014 § 75 Comments
There are objections floating around (see the post and comment thread here, for example) to the effect that in my posts criticizing freedom as a political priority I am just begging the question and pulling concepts out of a hat. Some of my vast body of readers might find the objections of interest.
For example, it is suggested that my understanding of freedom and its necessary connection to equal rights when made a political priority is something I just made up; and it is proposed that my suggestion, that the myriad social structures of genuine subsidiarity develop organically rather than as a top-down design by civilizational engineers pulling the levers of the state, is just begging the question against the reductionists.
Whether one agrees with me or not, though, the notion that I am just making this stuff up to beg the question doesn’t really pass the laugh test, and as usual Google is your friend. On the former, just as an example, there is this:
“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” –Thomas Jefferson to I. Tiffany, 1819.
And as far as the latter goes, there is this:
78. When we speak of the reform of institutions, the State comes chiefly to mind, not as if universal well-being were to be expected from its activity, but because things have come to such a pass through the evil of what we have termed “individualism” that, following upon the overthrow and near extinction of that rich social life which was once highly developed through associations of various kinds, there remain virtually only individuals and the State. This is to the great harm of the State itself; for, with a structure of social governance lost, and with the taking over of all the burdens which the wrecked associations once bore, the State has been overwhelmed and crushed by almost infinite tasks and duties. – Quadragesimo Anno, Pope Pius XI
Moving on to Lydia McGrew’s ugly tie test, it really has nothing whatsoever to do with making freedom a political priority. Observe that the test ‘works’ precisely because of the triviality of what is controverted. What is at issue is subjects making a federal case out of a petty insult and wasting the sovereign’s valuable time and resources with their pathetic squabble. If I were king both parties would spend some time in the stocks being pelted with rotten tomatoes, both for being jerks and for wasting my time; but certainly not because freedom is a political prior.