Welcome to the jungle, where connotation swamps denotation

December 21, 2015 § 29 Comments

One of the most common phrases I hear in Catholicland these days is ‘all are welcome’.

I suppose this could be interpreted in an orthodox manner by rephrasing it as ‘all are called’ (to repent of our sins, reform our lives, believe in the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and follow the precepts of the Church that He established).

But called just seems so much more … demanding … than welcomed.

In the land of lies, every day is opposite day

December 21, 2015 § 45 Comments

Lies typically get their purchase by imitating truth, and then ultimately asserting the opposite of what is imitated. We end up with a language filled with words that appeal to our sensibilities by pretending to mean the opposite of what they actually mean in practice.

Political liberty crushes subsidiarity beneath a monolithic bureaucratic authority which rules while pretending not to rule: which makes sure, good and hard, that nobody is allowed to tell anyone else what to do. Political freedom ensures that everyone is subjected to anonymous monolithic all-encompassing authority which hides unaccountably behind a wall of structural bureaucracy. That way nobody ever feels compelled, by social pressure or a misguided and really rather pathetic respect for authority, to doff his cap to the king. But if you don’t cast a substantively meaningless symbolic vote personally affirming the legitimacy of the political liberalism under which you are a tiny and insignificant subject, you are a traitor. Voting should probably be made mandatory; in the very least, people who refuse to vote have no right to complain.  And it is a moral travesty that this political freedom is not comprehensively imposed on everyone, everywhere. Freedom should be imposed, by force of arms when necessary.

Equal rights impose a ‘live and let live’ philosophy formally and comprehensively on every person and institution in the name of tolerance, authoritatively discriminating everywhere that is necessary in order to eliminate discrimination and authority.

Fraternity means that if you will not agree that my political philosophy is right you are less than human scum.

Anti-authoritarianism means imposing anarchy on everyone against their will.

Hatred means being the kind of jerk that every right-thinking person despises.

Diversity means making sure that everyone is the same.

Dignity means making our defects into the principle of our identity.

Being open-minded means that you make all of the same unreflective metaphysical assumptions that I make.  It means attributing everything that is good in the world to my narrow point of view.

Conservatism means making sure that there are plenty of ways around to dissipate the natural human instinct to conserve, providing an outlet so people can whine ineffectually without actually questioning liberalism.

Anti-racism means that we should despise any race of people who have, for any reason and in any context, historically shown hatred toward other races, or, equivalently, done anything objectively superior in any way to people of other races. But only as long as that race is the bad race, that is, white people, or white hispanics, and anyway I AM NOT WHITE!!!  Whites are the Low Man! Anti-racism means importing large numbers of pliable brown skinned immigrants to do work that less pliable brown skinned citizens won’t do as cheaply and efficiently. And it means ensuring that the way white people see the world rules supreme. (Wait, what?)

Welcoming the marginalized means supporting society’s most powerful people in crushing fringe religious opinions.  Mercy means empowering evil and lost people to destroy and torment themselves and their innocent victims. It means making sure that the way out of sin is as obscure and hidden as possible under a fog of sentimentalism. (Unless you are the kind of sinner we don’t like: the only people worse than you are the people trying to dissipate the fog).

Laissez-faire economics means that government should be aggressively and comprehensively involved in selectively enforcing mostly involuntary contract terms on debt slaves. Economic freedom means turning people into property. A scientific approach to economics means treating economic value as if it were nothing but the product of our imaginations, and money as if its value were spun into existence by magical incantation and pagan circle dances. Contrariwise, securities granting specific rights issued by the most powerful economic institution on earth against its real economic assets have no intrinsic value.

Responsibility and fairness mean that deadbeat dads who have been thrown out of their own home and had their children taken away – so that mommy could have a more exciting sex life and their children can benefit from the darwinist struggle of having a thug who doesn’t care about them in their life – should continue to hold up their end of the marriage contract while mommy doesn’t have to uphold hers.  It means protecting women who are being abused by a bilocating husband who is capable of teleportation and has been beating his poor wife from his Iranian prison cell.

Respecting women means making sure that we treat them like children who are not responsible for their own actions.  Unless they are gay.

Scientific impartiality means (at least methodologically) begging the question in favor of one of the most manifestly stupid and puerile metaphysical ideas ever conceived by man: metaphysical naturalism.  “Science” means that, at least for the sake of argument and method, we should adopt the point of view that we ourselves are literally mindless idiots.

Transparency means hiding everything behind a wall of bureaucratic structure and superficial philosophical obfuscation so that authority can be exercised while pretending that it isn’t, and people can be, not subjects for the good of whom those in authority are responsible, but owned chattel; all while pretending that everyone is free and equal.  It means more generally that you cannot see what rules over you and have no idea who or what they really are. Until they show up to kill you.

Checks and balances mean that structures and philosophies are put into place which make it impossible to stop mass murder; and bureaucratic measures are taken to ensure that nature doesn’t stop it either.

Marriage means the union of any two arbitrary things for any arbitrary reason, as long as the union can be dissolved at any time and for any reason.  More generally, commitment means carefully remaining uncommitted to anything in particular.  Except sodomy.  Oh and contraception, if you are cisgender.  For the time being, until you and your surgeon and your psychiatrist change your minds and decide to rearrange your legos.

Game means learning to be a man by spending all of your time and energy obsessing over how to curry favor with women.

Rape means mutually voluntary sex when both parties are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Or when one of the parties is a man.

A right to die means they will kill you no matter what you think or want.

Consent means that if you were right like me you would choose what I am imposing on you.

That word, ‘marginalized’ …

December 21, 2015 § 10 Comments

I keep reading assertions to the effect that the Church has to be more welcoming to the ‘marginalized’.

By ‘marginalized,’ those making the assertion seem to mean various kinds of people with the full weight of our culture and political authority behind them.

By ‘welcoming the marginalized’, those making the assertion seem to mean crushing any questioning of the comprehensive march through institutions by the culturally and politically powerful beneath the bootheel of formal and informal sanction.

Cartesian sex in legoland

December 18, 2015 § 44 Comments

Ever since Descartes it has been hipster to think of the interior subjective world of phenomena as utterly distinct from the exterior material objective world of reality.  As a result, we post-cartesians tend to think of motivation or intention as something which can be separated from action or behavior: as nothing but an interior, fully, and solely subjective phenomenon.  We think that an intentional action can be literally broken apart into a really distinct subjective intention combined with an objective action.

This reductionism has consequences, and one of those consequences is that we have a tendency to find pre-cartesian thought about sex incomprehensible. Or, more accurately, we think we comprehend it and find that it – what we think we have comprehended – is abhorrent to reason.  We project our own worldview upon it, so that when we read that intercourse even with one’s wife must be motivated by the procreation of children we think that the ‘motivated by’ part refers to a rarified interior disposition, utterly divorced from the concrete behavior we are actually choosing.

Reality begs to differ with Descartes though. A man with different motivations chooses different actions. A surgeon who is trying to murder his patient may, at a certain fuzzy resolution, look like he is choosing the same objective behaviors as a surgeon who is trying to save his patient. But an accidental cut to the aorta is different in species from a deliberate choice to cut the aorta: it is a different objective behavior, not merely a different motivation.

Reductionist post cartesians think of actions and motivations as separable things, each of which can exist on its own.  They are like lego blocks which can be arranged and rearranged arbitrarily: for a given actual concrete deliberately chosen action, any one of an arbitrary number of motivations may apply. Morality then becomes reducible to nothing but ‘motivation’, understood as an entirely subjective phenomenon.

Reductionism can be a very useful conceptual tool.  But it is a mistake to think that reality, as an ontological matter, is actually partitioned into distinct elements of Being by our conceptual reductions.  It is a mistake to think that the male and the human can be dis-integrated from each other and treated as separate ontological objects in reality.

So sexual reductionists take the moral principle that licit sex must (among other things) be motivated by procreation to mean that husband and wife must summon, within the isolated purely subjective cartesian realm of their interior being, in the IMAX theater of the mind, a pure desire-object, a desire to actually conceive a child right now in this very act.  But that of course is to treat motivation as something utterly distinct and severed from the choice of action.  It is to treat actions and motivations as distinct lego blocks such that ‘sex motivated by procreation’ is not a deliberate choice of a particular kind of behavior, but a purely subjective motivation block fitted together with a purely objective ‘intercourse’ behavior block; an objective behavior block which could go together, in all of its detail and at all resolutions of objective understanding, with virtually any arbitrary and purely subjective ‘motivation’.

The cartesian separation of reality into ontologically distinct subjective and objective worlds makes reality incomprehensible.  If there are two utterly distinct worlds then a given ontic object has to exist in one or the other. So economic value and morality become purely subjective; at the same time consciousness becomes merely an epiphenomenon of matter and energy swirling about in response to the mathematical dictates of  physical laws.

Human acts are not – in actual reality as opposed to the post-cartesian house of mirrors – reducible to arbitrary combinations of utterly distinct subjective and objective ontic lego blocks, one made of nothing but purely subjective ‘motivation’ and the other of nothing but purely objective ‘behavior’. Cartesian metaphysics applied to sex leads to hacking acts of a human person into pieces at the ontological level and rearranging them how we please, or in whatever way fits our preconceived notions.

Is it any wonder then that modern man is starting to literally hack apart his sex organs and rearrange them how he sees fit?

Liberal republic vs monarchy

December 17, 2015 § 47 Comments

Both monarchy and liberal republics are structures of governance: particular arrangements of political authority with subjects, that is, people subject to that governing authority.  Liberals tend to be obsessed with the precise structure of governance, because to the extent that bureaucracy obscures authority liberals can pretend that authority doesn’t exist.  In liberal republics, subjects petition the sovereign on general matters of politics through the formal process of voting.

The main difference is that subjects of a liberal republic are governed by a sociopathic ruling class, which governs while pretending not to govern, under an immortal pack of lies which never dies; whereas in a monarchy the people who hold authority can be personally identified and live the life span of human beings.

Images of liberalism, or, eyeglasses on a murderous rampage

December 17, 2015 § 11 Comments

In the comments to the previous post, GJ proposes the metaphor of eyeglasses as a way of understanding liberalism:

The more natural explanation is that liberalism is right there in front of your nose: it is the rose-tinted glasses that you wear and most of the time you look through and not at it; ie. the mindset which is the individual’s variation of the worldview.

The image of glasses is useful because it highlights that people see much of the world through liberalism.  Their perception of the world is shaped by liberalism, while they fail to see liberalism itself. I think Dalrock has used the eyeglass image as an alternative to the popular “red pill” metaphor.

But it has two weaknesses, ways in which it obscures the overall picture rather than illuminating it.

The first is that it obscures the way liberalism functions as the default attitude toward authority. Most ordinary people do not see the entire world of authority through liberal glasses. In the areas they care about they will adopt illiberal views, a.k.a. unprincipled exceptions. I talked about the example of “patriarchy lite” – that is, liberalism for men but not for women – here. But in the far more numerous areas in which a person is not well informed or passionate he will adopt a default liberal position on the exercise of authority.  In this sense a liberal republic is basically the same as monarchy, with subjects petitioning the sovereign through the formal process of voting. The main difference is that subjects of a liberal republic are governed by a sociopathic ruling class, which governs while pretending not to govern, under an immortal pack of lies which never dies; whereas in a monarchy the people who hold authority can be personally identified and live the life span of human beings.

The second is that while the glasses metaphor is helpful in the ‘ordinary case’ it is hard to imagine eyeglasses going through the kind of phase change that liberalism goes through when it is challenged on a principled basis, or encounters something in reality which challenges it on a principled basis (witness the recent transformation of JC Wright from reasonable, devout, good-hearted, intelligent, erudite human being into an insult-flinging mouth-frothing SJW when the subject of monarchy was broached as an actually serious subject for discussion). It is hard to picture eyeglasses becoming suddenly and terrifyingly visible right as they start to rip out your entrails.

It is easier to see while it is butchering people

December 16, 2015 § 33 Comments

The movie Alien launched what I think of as the “Scifi Horror” genre in film, a mashup of horror films and science fiction.  The second Alien film tossed in a lot of action sequences in an attempt to add the characteristics of action movies – and ensemble casts, for that matter – into the mix. How well this succeeded, for various values of ‘success’, is certainly up for debate. But Scifi-Horror-Action films became a thing.

For you younger folks who may not be familiar, one of the iconic Hollywood Scifi-Horror-Action Real-Bad-Alien characters originated in a cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger movie called Predator.  (Modern industry, in its ruthless efficiency, will squeeze every last fiat dollar out of every last pop-cultural object: the banality-recycling machine known as Hollywood eventually treated us to the spectacle of Alien vs Predator).

Anyway, one of the traits of the “Predator” – at least as a film effect, I don’t remember (and don’t especially care) how this was treated as a matter of plot –  is that it is mostly, but not quite, invisible.  It was really more transparent than actually invisible.  It’s transparent armor kind of shimmered as it moved, but it was easy to lose sight of it against background distractions.

I am not sure why this is, but discussing or even just thinking about liberalism seems to involve a similar kind of effect.  It is right there in front of our noses, as concrete and real and deadly as the Predator; but we can’t seem to stay focused on it and are always distracted by things that it is not.  It seems as though there is something about liberalism which makes it difficult to keep in view — right up until the moment the blade enters.

My guess is that liberalism’s camouflage effect is caused by the combination of its surface plausibility with its underlying incoherence. On the surface it sounds reasonable, even moral, and – precisely because it is rationally incoherent – when we look at it we project onto it just what we expect to see.  It cooperates epistemically by confirming, as a matter of superficial logic, our prejudices.

So when we discuss liberalism, in order to follow along with the discussion it is critical to keep precisely what we are talking about in focus.  If you find yourself talking about how God gave us free will, and the good freely chosen is the best, etc, then you have simply lost sight of the actual subject matter.

Liberalism is a political philosophy.  That is, liberalism is a particular view of what justifies the exercise of authority.

It is in this context – and only this context, at least insofar as we are discussing liberalism – where liberty, freedom, is self-contradictory.  Each and every exercise of authority discriminates between different possible controvertible options and restricts the freedom of those under that authority to a subset of those options.  And attempting to justify the restriction of freedom based on preventing restriction of freedom is self contradictory.

So when discussing liberalism, if you start to feel that eerie feeling that the world is shifting out of focus and you are not seeing reality properly, you can bring yourself back around to reality by reminding yourself of what exactly we are talking about: a particular view of what justifies the exercise of discriminating authority in restricting those subject to that authority to a subset of possible options.

Pulling away from the tar baby

December 15, 2015 § 43 Comments

I’ve noticed some patterns in how folks tend to respond to my discussion of liberalism.  I’ll address a few of them, without any pretense of an exhaustive account.

One relatively uncommon response is to directly engage the arguments in an attempt to refute them.

Another is to look for pre-enlightenment citations which might be construed to support political liberalism.  I don’t deny that there are pre-enlightenment roots. I see some of that myself in Ockhamite nominalism / anti-realism, in the lollard branch of protestantism and pre-protestantism, and even in Islam.

But it is important to keep in mind here that heresies often look superficially similar to the truths they pervert.  Political liberty looks superficially similar to subsidiarity even though the former destroys the latter: even though “Your Majesty, governing the subsidiary communities  under your sovereignty with a light and tolerant hand is wise when it is possible” bears superficial resemblance to “political authority is justified by the fact that it keeps everyone from telling anyone else what to do, good and hard”.

Still another is to generalize liberalism into a vague cloud of sin as a way of avoiding addressing it specifically. If liberalism is just fallen human nature or whatever, as opposed to a specific political doctrine, then we can just live with it the way we have to live with a sinful world. This is indeed similar to how theological liberals will tend to generalize sin into a big vague lump in order to avoid addressing the specific sin of (say) sodomy or fornication or usury.

And yet another is to nominally accept the critique of liberalism, and then immediately set about trying to justify the same positions one has long held on the basis of liberalism in putatively non-liberal terms.  You’ll see this as commenters cling for example to the notion of the ‘right to bear arms’ (see for example the combox discussion which starts here).

While all of these responses are I think understandably conservative, the magnitude of liberalism’s crimes doesn’t call for conservation.  The magnitude of liberalism’s crimes calls for repentance.   Liberalism is a lie, a heresy, a terrible scourge, and must be repudiated utterly and unequivocally.

If the first thing you find yourself trying to do once you’ve realized that liberalism – including the kind you’ve always taken for granted as simple common sense morality in the political domain – is a specific lie from the pit of Hell, is preserve your favorite liberal ‘rights’ under some putatively illiberal justification, you are probably just on your way back into the mind trap.

I understand that. The world outside the padded walls is a scary, sociopathic place to find yourself.

But at least it is the real world.


On doffing your hat to the king and concrete shoes

December 15, 2015 § 191 Comments

I made a comment, which frankly I thought to be unexceptional, almost routine, that I would rather die than doff my cap to a king, since I am a Virginian.


This issue is not one open to debate, for debate is the province of free men. Free men by rights must kill those who attempt to enslave them. We do not attempt to persuade the slaveowners to let us be free, as a gift from the royal hand.

I see no need to answer such questions, as well-meant as they might be, because if they are meant frivolously, there is no need; and if they are meant seriously, the only proper answer comes from the muzzle of a gun.

John C Wright

I haven’t followed all of the discussion of the Wright affair, to which I was first introduced by my commenters (see Malcolm’s posts here, here, here, and here).

If you’ve been following along with what I write here, and have recognized Mr. Wright’s commitment to classical liberalism, then none of this should be surprising. Mr. Wright’s insults and contempt directed at his own commenters, at people who like and appreciate him, people who are fans of his work and view him as a decent man, are an inevitable product of his liberalism. It is a necessary concomitant of liberalism – all varieties of liberalism – that anyone who stands in liberalism’s way, or who questions liberalism itself, is the Low Man. The Low Man is contemptible, slave by nature or by choice, less than fully human, an impediment to the political liberty of the free and equal emancipated new man: a superman self created by reason and will, subject to no earthly authority other than his own will.

Liberals, including the classical variety, carry with their commitment to liberalism an insufferable sense of entitlement. Scratch a classical liberal and you’ll find an SJW.  Perhaps this latest kerfuffle has demonstrated all of this concretely for a few folks who might have previously though it only abstract and theoretical.

Most of the interesting aspects of the incident have already been discussed elsewhere, but I wanted to focus on one which has not been discussed. After all of his incontinent grandstanding, refusal to engage, insulting of his own fans and readers, and, some would argue, blasphemy, Wright apparently backpedaled to the following position:

I hate to say it, but a king who kills those who do not bow to him was what the original statement was about, and the only thing it was about.

That was the only kind of king ever under discussion, a tyrant: the oxbow in the discussion of King Arthur was to say that the only danger there was that there was no legal restraint on his becoming a king of like type.

I already answered to this in another place, in reference to the king of Liechtenstein: A king who merely imposed a light fine for my not doffing my cap places me in no danger whatsoever, nor does my defiance of him mean anything.

All defiance of authority can end in death, if the person engaging in the defiance persists. Suppose the classical liberal does not doff his cap, and is fined. He refuses to pay the fine, and the king’s men come to collect it. He meets the king’s men with resistance, and violence ensues. One of the king’s men is killed. The classical liberal is tried for murder and hanged, all because of his petulant refusal to doff his cap to the rightful king and his persistence in this defiance.

All liberals – including the classical variety – have, concomitant to their liberalism (and to the extent of their commitment to liberalism), an insufferable sense of entitlement and a view of authority as tyranny. Part and parcel to that sense of entitlement is begging the question in favor of their own preferences and refusal to take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions; in this case vitriolic defiance of rightful authority.

The conservative uncertainty principle, or Schrodinger’s propositions

December 12, 2015 § 12 Comments

Conservatism just is the tendency to conserve: to tend what is conserved, to protect it from attack and disease, and to cultivate its healthy flourishing.  In the political domain this means to conserve (among other things) communities, institutions, culture, and ideas.  In this post I am going to focus on conservation of ideas; but it may be worth noting that most of the things we work to conserve are not ideas.  Communities, for example, are not bundles of propositions.

In the realm of ideas specifically, conserving them means that criticism is assumed to be invalid even when it exhibits surface plausibility. Conservatism means that critique of a conserved idea faces a very high standard of proof. Conservatism means having faith, trust, that there are good answers to criticisms of ideas which were important to our ancestors even when we don’t have those answers immediately to hand ourselves.

In a banal sense everyone is a conservative in the realm of ideas. We are finite beings and are not omniscient. The number of ideas we can subject to explicit critique before we die is finite; the remainder, including but not limited to new questions raised by the answers, infinite. So our intellectual worlds are necessarily dominated by faith that answers exist, that the ideas in which we have faith are valid and true, even when we do not have snappy answers to every critique.

Ideas within the conservation area are ideas protected from criticism, so it makes no sense to attempt to critically define what is conserved.  In a Heisenberg-Schrodinger kind of paradox, opening the box kills the cat and measuring the particle turns it into something else.

On the other hand, criticism has its place even when it comes to sacred ideas. Conservatism may properly set a high bar for the potential critic, and it is impossible to completely specify all propositions which are consistent with the truth. But when particular ideas become manifestly destructive, heresies must be condemned.  Certain ideas must be subjected to critique, recognized as pernicious and false, and condemned as such.

My argument is that we have reached and passed this point with the political doctrine of liberalism specifically.  Men of Chesterton’s and Belloc’s generation might be forgiven for being somewhat and sometimes equivocal when it comes to the core doctrines of political liberalism.  But somewhere around the 100 millionth corpse, somewhere around the time when criticizing men for chopping off their genitals and pretending to become women became vicious bigotry, somewhere around the time when simply maintaining the integrity of a community by limiting the volume of immigration became hateful exclusion, somewhere around the time that humanity became a rabble of bonobos in the sexual domain and criticism of this became considered the height of wickedness — somewhere in there the critical bar was reached, when it comes to the political doctrine of liberalism specifically.

So we have subjected the political doctrine of liberalism specifically to criticism and discovered that it is unequivocally a lie: an incoherent lie from the pit of Hell, which destroys the good, true, and beautiful as standards and replaces them with Will.  That it hides behind the fact that sometimes people of good will do good things, and when they give credit for their good will to liberalism this shores up the lie.  That it makes chumps out of conservatives who attempt to conserve it.

If we condemn the political doctrine of liberalism as heresy, that obviously leaves a great many things under the conservation dome, even if we are just talking about ideas.

But don’t ask me to explicitly define the contents, because that will kill the cat.

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