The indiscriminate sacredness of bombs
August 31, 2017 § 231 Comments
We are always responsible for the behaviors we choose.
Bombs are indiscriminate weapons: they kill everyone in their fatal blast radius without discriminating between innocent people and belligerents. This is the nature of bombs.
When we choose to detonate a bomb we are choosing to kill everyone we know to be in the fatal blast radius. That is the nature of the objective behavior we have chosen.
But many people seem to believe that the indiscriminate nature of bombs qua technology has a sacred charism which takes away our responsibility for our choices. The fact that a bomb is objectively indiscriminate somehow implies that we aren’t responsible for killing all of the people we choose to kill when we deliberately destroy their living bodies with a bomb. We are only responsible for killing the people we wanted to kill with an imaginary discriminate weapon, not all of the actual people we actually chose to kill with our actually indiscriminate weapon.
But the fact that bombs are indiscriminate weapons doesn’t change the nature of human choices and moral responsibility. Bombs are not quasi-sacramental objects which move our moral responsibility out of objective reality and into an imaginary inner world wherein we didn’t actually choose to kill everyone known to be in the fatal blast radius.
The modernist notion is that bombs as a technology change the moral nature of killing, moving it into a subjective imaginary realm in which we are responsible for the choices we would have made in an idealized imaginary world: we are not responsible for the actual choices we actually made in the real world. You might notice a certain similarity to the idea that financial and medical technology have changed the moral nature of usury and contraception.
See recent Crisis Magazine articles here, here, and here. You can see my own comments on these articles on my Disqus profile.
You may speak freely in the asylum
August 24, 2017 § 102 Comments
In 1689, during the lifetime of John Locke, free speech meant that a member of parliament formally charged with a speech crime committed during a session of parliament had to be tried by parliament, not some other judicial body.
In 2017, free speech means that you can say anything hateful and false you want to about white people and Christians, pollute the community with despicable pornography, and commit blasphemy against Christ (but not against the false and violent religion of Islam). Yet stating facts about official victim groups in the most apologetic way possible can destroy your livelihood and turn you into a national pariah.
There are several features of free speech regimes worth collecting in one place.
- Free speech refers to a regime of restricted and censored speech. Every reasonable person acknowledges that there have to be reasonable limits on speech.
- Free speech dishonestly frames the question of what restrictions there ought to be on speech as if it were a question of whether there ought to be restrictions on speech.
- This dishonesty in framing introduces instability into free speech regimes. There is nothing intrinsically incoherent about symbolic representations or slogans which refer to complex traditions. But free speech isn’t a complex tradition of what speech is acceptable; it is a simple anti-tradition which implies that restricting speech is wrong. The configuration of empowered speech and restricted speech captured by the label “free speech” is thus mostly implicit and constantly changing.
- Free speech regimes have to police speech while pretending not to police speech. The result is that methods of censorship and enforcement are mostly unofficial, indirect, non-explicit, and generally sociopathic. People are regularly punished for having violated today’s nonexplicit unofficial standard some time in the past. Free speech regimes are thus intrinsically unfair.
- Because of their intrinsic unfairness and instability, free speech regimes create a progressive cascade. Whatever you say today – even though it is permissible by today’s standards – might well destroy your life in the future, so you have to be constantly thinking ahead about the progressive pieties of tomorrow and adjusting your speech to accommodate those anticipated future standards.
- Because it is impossible for most people to maintain a complex lie over decades, the progressive cascade created by free speech regimes requires you to try to accommodate not just your speech but your internal thoughts to the anticipated inviolable progressive pieties of tomorrow.
- Because liberals generally don’t grasp the implications of their own ideas, the more conservative among a population of liberals attempt to fight the perversity created by a free speech regime with assertions of a right to free speech.
Whither whether which what
August 20, 2017 § 158 Comments
“Free speech” and “limited free speech” are intrinsically dishonest phrases, because they treat the question of what restrictions there ought to be on speech as if it were a question of whether there ought to be restrictions on speech.
You have the right to remain silent
August 20, 2017 § 31 Comments
Liberals are firmly committed to free speech, as a core value.
Free speech doesn’t mean absolutely free speech. Absolutely free speech is an obvious straw man, positing no middle ground between manifestly insane absolute rights and nice tame rights within due limits. Everyone who is committed to free speech agrees that there should be some limits on speech. We just don’t want to live under an inquisitional speech restricting tyranny.
Free speech means that permissible speech should be permitted, while impermissible speech should be suppressed and punished. It means we should take a live and let live approach to regulating speech.
So free speech, at least as understood by reasonable liberals, is restricted speech: speech circumscribed within limits. The terms “free” and “restricted” are interchangeable. For reasonable non-ideological liberals, free means the same thing as restricted.
Limits on speech which should be in place are called “limits on free speech”. (Everyone agrees that there needs to be limits on free speech).
Limits on speech which should not be in place are called “political correctness” (with an ironic inflection).
Now even though the terms “free” and “restricted” are interchangeable, the term “free” must be used when describing free speech. It is unfair and ridiculous to propose that we stop calling free speech “free speech”. It is not advisable to use the term restricted speech to refer to free speech, even though they are really the same thing. Using the term “free” focuses attention the the fact that some speech is permissible and allowed, while minimizing the fact that some speech is impermissible and punished.
If someone points out that by free speech we mean restricted speech, the best course is to scoff and point out again that of course every sane person believes that there are limits on free speech (which we shall continue to call “free speech”). The term “free” attaches the configuration of speech empowerments and restrictions that we prefer to the liberal slogan “freedom”. Everyone supports freedom! People who don’t support reasonable freedoms – as well adjusted people understand them – are bad people, nazis or worse.
Freedom, of course, means crushing dissent from the configuration of empowerments and restrictions our society considers good – or that our team is convinced society ought to consider good – under the boot of emancipation.
Don’t blame the Low Man on the scapegoat
August 19, 2017 § 16 Comments
Human beings like to have explanations for why things don’t go the way they think things ought to go, and this sometimes manifests itself as scapegoating. A scapegoat is an innocent victim who absorbs the blame for things being the way they are, even though the scapegoat is not in fact the reason for the way things are.
The Low Man, in contrast, is a person or group of people who in fact do interfere with a particular faction of liberalism’s understanding of how things ought to be, and thus must be absorbed or destroyed. Unborn children in fact do interfere with the emancipated enfranchised feminist life plan, etc.
The concept of scapegoating is a popular explanatory trope in tradition-leaning blogs and publications, but it seems to me that it most often obscures the underlying reality rather than illuminating it. The perception that SJW tranny freaks have of traditionalists standing in the way of their vision of the world is accurate. They are absolutely correct that metaphysical realists and the reality in which we believe obstruct their vision of a free and equal new man, self created through reason and will, occupying a neutral and tolerant public square emancipated politically from the conflicts of tradition, nature, religion, class, etc.
SJW’s are not scapegoating metaphysical realists and the reality in which we believe. Those things in fact do stand in the way of their incoherent modernist hopes and dreams.
Dismissing leftists and SJWs and the like as scapegoaters is therefore a mistake, a mistake which obscures our ability to gain a dispassionate grasp of what they sincerely believe and how they sincerely perceive themselves. And scapegoating theories ironically produce enough obscurity to enable right liberals to cling to their own incoherent defenses of political freedom, thus ensuring the perpetuation of liberalism.
We are free to disagree that I am punching you in the face
August 19, 2017 § 45 Comments
Take a contentious dispute between A and not-A, and suggest that people are free to disagree on the question.
Present a bunch of arguments why someone might believe not-A.
Personally attack anyone defending A with actual arguments by suggesting that in asserting A they violate the free to disagree principle.
Studiously ignore the fact that if asserting A violates the free to disagree principle, then asserting not-A also violates this principle.
Free speech means editing my comments
August 19, 2017 § 50 Comments
Just for the record.
UPDATE: I cropped the screen grab in a bit to make it more readable.
UPDATE 2: Two days in, all of my chopped up and modified comments have now been deleted from the Orthosphere thread, and from the earlier “PC” post. Comments are (hilariously) closed on the Free Speech post.
Alexander the great scrappy rebel alliance
August 13, 2017 § 98 Comments
Oz conservative asks why liberals always see themselves as anti-establishment, despite the fact that liberalism has comprehensively dominated politics for centuries.
One reason is that as an incoherent doctrine which (precisely because it is incoherent) reduces the good in politics to will – to whatever any given group of liberals happen to unreflectively want and expect – liberalism necessarily produces opposing factions. Different groups of people want and expect different things. Each faction, understanding itself to be in possession of the authentic implications of political freedom, sees its competitors as subhuman tyrants who must ultimately be either converted or killed.
Tyrants of course are the establishment. If they weren’t the establishment they wouldn’t have the power to be tyrants. Liberals from their own perspective are scrappy rebel underdogs seeking freedom and (concomitantly) equality for the brotherhood of those who are oppressed under the established order. So another reason liberals see themselves as anti-establishment is because they ultimately have to see themselves that way. Liberal governance justifies its own exercise of discriminating authority on the basis that its own governance frees those who would otherwise be oppressed.
And this provides additional insight into the reason why a nice tame liberalism – the sort in which right-liberals or conservatives still believe despite centuries of uninterrupted defeat – is not possible. Liberalism always needs to find new “establishment” tyrants to destroy, or else its very reason for existence disappears.
Endless revolution is always and necessarily baked into the doctrine that pursuit of freedom is what justifies the concrete exercise of authority.
Biting the logic bullet
August 11, 2017 § 124 Comments
In general there is a lot of resistance to morally evaluating the means we choose to accomplish our ends in their own right, independent of those ends. Modern people resist evaluating behaviors in themselves against objective moral criteria.
It is certainly true that, in order to be morally evil, a particular objective kind of behavior must actually be chosen by a moral agent in an act of the will. It is also true that choices of behavior are preceded by the formation of interior subjective plans, intentions, mentalities, and dispositions, all of which are themselves subject to moral evaluation. Later behaviors are often preceded by earlier behaviors, carried out in preparation for the later behavior. And it is possible for a moral agent to suffer from an error of knowledge: for the person making the choice to be mistaken, to think that the kid waving a toy gun is actually a criminal waving a real gun.
A subjective error of knowledge is of course (and obviously) entirely different from the person making the choice having a malign subjective opinion that it is morally acceptable to shoot children waving toy guns. Malign subjective opinions don’t change objective moral reality. Subjective opinions don’t in themselves change objective reality at all, although disordered preferences can certainly give rise to disordered behaviors.
Once we accept the premise that good ends don’t justify evil means it follows that we must be able to morally evaluate means in themselves, independent of ends, and reject those means which are morally evil. We’ve already stipulated a good end. It further follows that we can’t start with the principle of double effect and reason our way backward from the good end to conclude that the chosen means is not evil.
The means we choose to achieve our ends must always, first, and foremost be evaluated morally in themselves, independent of those ends.
And this is a logic bullet that most people just aren’t willing to bite.
The dirt nap gap
August 8, 2017 § 74 Comments
Diversity fideism has taken another scalp, thereby proving the victim’s point.
The shrieking harpies of tolerance once again demonstrate that women and feminists aren’t thin-skinned at all (really!) in the face of big scary challenges to the diversity monoculture.
Any subhuman oppressor who attempts to politely discuss inclusiveness and open sharing of all opinions within a diverse modern high tech organization must be ejected from polite society, deprived of voice and income. Young intelligent twenty-something lightly pigmented men who very gently and apologetically notice that men and women are — despite stipulated wide individual variation and the occasional surgical adventurer — generally different qua populations, pose a terrible threat to billionaire masters of the universe who also happen to be young intelligent lightly pigmented men.
What constitutes ‘fact’ doesn’t depend upon empirical reality: it depends upon narrative-established victim status. That over 90% of work related fatalities are men is not a relevant fact at all: nobody is lobbying to close the dirt nap gap.
That individual women who accomplish the same things as men in the same position make the same pay is not a relevant fact. (That they actually shouldn’t be paid as much for the same work is something which must never be proposed at all. That is even worse than noticing that importing a pliable Mexican underclass harms the prospects of a more darkly pigmented and less pliable American underclass).
That women as a population earn less than men on average is a relevant fact; but only inasmuch as it is founded on the idea that women are not moral agents making their own decisions. The observation that women qua population might be making free choices which affect average pay is not a relevant fact. White men are awful oppressors and the reason they dominate Fortune 500 boards is unfair bias.
These are foundational propositions in the Current Year version of the modern creed, dogmas not subject to empirical falsification and set in opposition to transcendent evil. Blind faith in the ruling class religion of total open-mindedness and the nonexistence of authority must never be questioned, no matter what your lying eyes may tell you.
The glass ceiling and the dirt floor are joined together by walls of irony resting on a foundation of bones, walls built and maintained by slaves chanting the mantra of freedom.