September 30, 2015 § 18 Comments
I expect the number of white people who claim to be not white, and anyway if they are white they are really sorry about it and will make up for it with constant apologies and offerings to the diversity gods, to continue to grow for the foreseeable future.
September 29, 2015 § 5 Comments
Great things can be accomplished by otherwise insignificant people, as long as they are willing to compromise their principles and cooperate with evil.
September 29, 2015 § 232 Comments
Some people are beginning to rediscover that present day Social Justice Warriors are simply the original American patriots in modern form. Internet shaming and career destruction are an iteration of tar and feathers. Expressing anything less than enthusiastic approval of sodomy is now just as bad as failing to be up in arms and outraged over a 2% import duty on tea.
The role of American conservativism is, as it has ever been, to jealously and militantly preserve the conditions which produce SJW’s and the ‘progress’ of previous generations of SJW’s. In America we call the concentration of secular power in the hands of the SJW’s, who exercise that power to tar and feather loyalists, “freedom“. And we always have, since the founding of the Republic.
September 28, 2015 § 84 Comments
Unprincipled exceptions to liberalism usually have to be expressed in sciency-sounding language in order for modern people not to immediately reject them by default. That’s why the term “human biodiversity” is used these days to refer to racial differences, rather than using the term “racial differences” to refer to racial differences. The sciency-soundingness of the former carries the right materialist metaphysical baggage necessary to get past the reflexive rejection by the modern mind of anything which appears to contradict liberalism. Sciency-sounding stuff is cool and hipster, so it might actually get read on the iPad at Starbucks.
The “Overton window” is a sciency-sounding way of referring to the obvious fact that, contrary to liberalism’s false conceits about itself, every society (whether healthy or unhealthy) is authoritarian and has its taboos and heresies. There are certain things which are open for respectable and respectful discussion under the conventions of a given society, and there are many things which are not. This is always the case.
Socially acceptable ideas about what is legitimately in contention are “inside” the Overton window; taboos and heresies are “outside” of the Overton window. For example in our society, mass-murdering unborn children and cannibalizing their body parts for profit in the name of science is inside the Overton window. The suggestion that possibly the female franchise is something other than an unmitigated good is outside of the Overton window.
In a thread at The Social Pathologist commenter Asher suggests:
The bottom line is that if you want to break the Overton Window you’re going to have to deal with the reality that everything will be on the table.
This idea of “breaking” the Overton window is malformed. It isn’t even wrong, as the saying goes, because it rests on an impossible premise: that the Overton window is the sort of thing which it is possible to “break.” But it isn’t possible for everything to be on the table, even in principle, let alone in practice. If everything must be on the table then one of the things that must be off the table is the view that not everything should be on the table.
So trying to “break” the Overton window is fundamentally irrational. The Overton window isn’t the sort of thing which can be “broken”. It can only be shifted to be more or less aligned with the good, the true, and the beautiful. And just because some particular person or group opposes the current configuration of the Overton window, it does not follow that that person or group is advocating better aligning it with the good, the true, and the beautiful.
With apologies to The Who, “meet the new sociopaths; same as the old sociopaths.”
September 25, 2015 § 85 Comments
Understanding our sociopolitical life as more of an ‘inside-outside’ thing than a ‘left-right’ thing changes our perspective significantly. Living inside or outside of a lie isn’t a matter of left versus right; it is a matter of the evil, false, and ugly versus the good, the true, and the beautiful. Or, perhaps more accurately, it is a matter of something known to be evil, false, and ugly versus … something else.
The Overton Window forms the soft comfortable center of the modern mind trap, in which all political debate involving all socially acceptable points of view takes place. All of these points of view take liberalism as a metaphysically basic background, and within the padded walls it makes sense to talk of left versus right; that is, left liberalism versus right liberalism.
Outside of the Overton window is where all of the overt sociopaths live. Some people are driven to overt sociopathy by the insanity of life inside the mind trap and its padded walls. Others are endogenously sociopathic (HT: Bonald) and just happen to live outside of the padded walls for that reason. I don’t venture to guess how it is that I ended up just where I am: I’ll leave that to others.
But there are all sorts of sociopaths; and just because someone is sociopathic enough to live outside of the padded walls doesn’t mean that he is my friend, or that his views and mine are any more compatible than my views and those of some of the people inside the padded walls. Someone who was lured outside of the padded walls by a promise of easy fornication, for example, is going to have different metaphysical baggage from someone who is outside of the padded walls because he ran in horror from the human sacrifice cult of modernity. All we really know upon encountering someone outside of the padded walls is that he is a sociopath.
So when I object to the idea of “no enemies to the right” what I am really saying is that just because someone is a sociopath who overtly rejects (some of) the comfortable pieties of liberalism, that doesn’t make him any more suitable as a friend or ally than someone inside the padded walls. The only thing that overt sociopathy guarantees is overt sociopathy.
September 25, 2015 § 36 Comments
Liberalism’s attempt to reduce ethnicity to a meaningless decorative accessory tends to drive reactionaries into an obsessive overemphasis of race and ethnicity. An obsessive overemphasis of race and ethnicity, often including magical beliefs about how huge an improvement it would be if (e.g.) the Jews would just disappear, are signs of being “stuck” in the outer crust of modernity. Reactionary views are frequently bolstered with sciency-sounding terminology like “human biodiversity” instead of backward terms like “racial differences”, to make it clear that, even though they reject equality (kind of), they still have the credibility and authority of the materialist gods behind them.
The attempt by late stage liberalism to reduce ethnicity, sex , and other important human goods to nothing but a decorative accessory has ironic consequences. Even ‘decorative’ symbols cannot be emptied of all meaning. Being born a white man is, to the modern Social Justice Warrior, like being born with a tattoo of the Confederate flag on your face. It takes constant obsequious pieties recited aloud to the equality god to make up for the offensiveness of being a white man — to reassure yourself and everyone around you that your whiteness and maleness are merely decorations about which you had no choice, shameful signs of the oppressive backwardness of your racist sexist homophobic untermensch ancestors. You were so congenitally lucky, and that makes you evil. As a descendent of Low Men, who has unfairly benefited from their long history of robbery and oppression, you must engage in a life of constant penance: you must remain forever prostrate before the altar, lighting pinches of incense to the gods.
At least a white woman has high status qua woman, and can make up for her whiteness by sleeping with a black man, who has high status because of his blackness. (You know who is high status based upon who you are not permitted to criticize without bringing down thunderous condemnation and ruin upon yourself). Women have a bit more racial fungibility than men, because they can use their bodies to join themselves to an approved race. Plus they can sacrifice their babies on the altar of emancipation.
But perhaps that provides a way forward. If you are a white man and you get tired of being on your knees all the time, you could try mutilating your body and changing your name to Caitlyn. Maybe that will satisfy the gods.
Another view though is that attempts to destroy important human realities and reduce them to fashion accessories don’t work. Perhaps making war on nature and nature’s God in the name of emancipation simply leads to self destruction. Perhaps attempts to destroy natural hierarchies of human goods has the effect of driving them underground and expressing themselves sociopathically.
September 23, 2015 § 40 Comments
Liberals (which include almost all modern people) are ironically so narrow-minded that they see other kinds of liberals as the farthest pole of conceivable political opposition. Those few who manage to permit their thoughts to stray outside of the Overton window tend to do so in quite predictable ways.
We can think of modern politics as a mental prison composed of a soft chewy center, a comfortable center made of left-right faux opposition within the Overton window – differing mainly from place to place on how many and which particular unprincipled exceptions to liberalism are allowed. Surrounding this soft chewy comfortable center is a hard and impenetrable shell of Nazi just outside of the Overton window. When someone on the right looks left, he sees the gulags. When someone on the left looks right, he sees Auschwitz. That keeps almost everyone anchored in the comfortable middle. Some do hang out on the outside crust; and the more disgusted and alienated people become the thicker the hard shell becomes, as the comfortable center shrinks.
Few actually escape from this prison. And if we have no enemies to the “right”, we will never escape to the real world outside of the shell.
September 22, 2015 § 10 Comments
The way to figure out whether a contract for gain is usurious or not is to look for contract terms which treat a personal guarantee as if it were property. It is morally licit for an owner to profit from the use of his property, or of property against which he has claims. But a borrower’s promise to repay principal which has been consumed is not property. A mere promise of apples is not itself actually apples. And the historical fact that there used to exist some apples which were consumed or money which was spent is not — the historical fact is not — actual apples or money.
If a mere promise to repay in kind actually were property it could be alienated from the borrower and repossessed by the lender, in case the borrower stopped making payments. Charging rent or levying profits from a mere promise to repay – charging “rent” for “property” which does not exist independent of any particular person – is usury. The fact that what is owed under a mutuum cannot be recovered from reality, but must by definition be recovered from a person, demonstrates that it does not exist in the pertinent sense required to justify rents or profits.
I’ve said in a number of places (because it is true) that moral doctrine condemning usury does not depend on any broader economic theory or theory of just pricing, and is in fact compatible with many such theories. On the other hand it is true that usurers would often take advantage of price ambiguities in order to charge what the medievals called “hidden usury”. It is from this that the myth of interdependence between usury doctrine and medieval just price theory arises. As seems to occur in many areas of moral theology, if people weren’t trying to get a pass on doing moral wrong on a technicality the issue would never arise in the first place.
Suppose I lend you 100 apples and agree to be repaid in two months time. But instead of asking for repayment in apples, I ask for you to personally guarantee (ahem) repayment of 100 oranges. Because oranges are worth more than apples when we ink our contract – and this is where just pricing may come into play – this contract involves “hidden usury”.
That this is “hidden usury” is clear once we observe that the terms call for contractual profit to the lender in conjunction with a personal guarantee by the borrower. Personally guaranteed loans (mutuum loans) are only ever morally licit as acts of charity or friendship. They are not morally licit as profit-producing investments, even when the lender might have hypothetically made a profit in some other way had he, counterfactually, chosen to do something different.
This does not in any way impair legitimate investment for gain. (It also doesn’t give a free moral pass to every contract which is not, strictly speaking, usurious). The way to avoid entering into usurious contracts (including those involving ‘hidden usury’) is to avoid commercial contract terms calling for personal guarantees of repayment. The only reason ‘just pricing’ comes into play at all is because the parties are attempting to craft a de-facto usurious contract while avoiding usury on a technicality — on the ambiguity of the relative prices of apples and oranges. This would not be an issue at all if the contracts were nonrecourse, that is, if the contract were not a form of mutuum. But mutuum agreements are never morally licit for gain in the first place. The notion that they are or should be is rooted, as with many errors of the modern age, in metaphysical anti-realism.
I’ll leave you with this quote from St. Francis Xavier, giving counsel to confessors (emphasis mine):
‘When in the sacred tribunal of penance you have heard all that your penitents have prepared themselves to confess of their sins, do not at once think that all is done, and that you have no further duty to discharge. You must go on further to inquire, and by means of questions to rake out the faults which ought to be known and to be remedied, but which escape the penitents themselves on account of their ignorance.
Ask them what profits they make, how, and whence? what is the system that they follow in barter, in loans, and in the whole matter of security for contracts?
You will generally find that everything is defiled with usurious contracts, …’
September 21, 2015 § 4 Comments
I’d suggest that he who is complicit in obscuring moral doctrine with respect to property under a fog of ‘pastoral mercy’ and willful incomprehension has no standing to complain when doctrine with respect to sex and marriage is obscured under a fog of ‘pastoral mercy’ and willful incomprehension.
And vice versa, with emphasis on the vice.
Usury is, in its essence, very simple (really much simpler than contraception/NFP): if you lend (money or anything else) and expect the thing lent to be used up by the borrower and paid back in kind (secured by his personal guarantee) at some later date, you may not contract for any gain whatsoever on that loan without committing the execrable sin of usury.
September 19, 2015 § 28 Comments
If there is one thing that writing and debating the Usury FAQ has demonstrated, it is the pervasiveness with which people use the same words to mean very different things.
When we talk about one person “owing” another person something, we are basically saying that one person has some sort of specific and concrete moral obligation to another. But there are all sorts of different kinds of specific, concrete moral obligations; and it is a basic mistake to treat incommensurable obligations as if they were commensurable.
I do address this in a number of places in the Usury FAQ, following the lead of St. Thomas Aquinas (not because he is an authority, but because he is correct). The incommensurability of different kinds of “owing” may be one of the most difficult sticking points for folks who are struggling with understanding the subject.
There are many different and incommensurable senses of “owing” which arise in entirely distinct kinds of situations. Husbands and wives owe each other the marriage debt. If I accidentally kill my neighbor’s horse, I owe him a replacement. If I steal someone’s money or car, I owe its return and acceptance of due punishment. If I borrow money from a friend or a charity organization when I am in need, I owe both what I borrowed and a debt of gratitude once I am back on my feet. If I rent an apartment from a landlord, I owe him the rent or my departure from the property and possibly forfeiture of a deposit. And if I accept money from an investor, I owe him his share of the fruits of that investment.
One accurate way to characterize usury is that it conflates incommensurable senses of “owing”. The usurer profits from kinds of “owing” under full recourse terms and conditions — conditions in which profit is intrinsically unjust. He is like a “friend” who lends money to someone in need and insists that it be returned in the form of the marriage debt.