And dance with Jak O’ the Shadows

December 1, 2013 § 44 Comments

The encounter of liberalism with reality necessarily produces the Low Man.  Simultaneously an oppressive tyrant and less than human, the Low Man provides liberalism with a consistent self-understanding of its failures.  If it were not for the Low Man, the free and equal New Man would be living in peace and harmony with himself as a self-made creation of reason and will, emancipated from the political chains of history, tradition, nature, and nature’s God, each doing his own thing and leaving his neighbors in peace.  The New Man might be personally religious, ethnic, or what have you; but he would never impose his religion on others, and the failure of all to live in free and equal peace and harmony constrained only by what is known to dispassionate scientific expertise has no explanation without the Low Man.

But of course in the real world liberalism is utterly triumphant.  Sure, there are a few nutcases here and there on the Internet – yet even those communities of nutcases have unrepentant liberals in their midst, and they almost never seem quite demonic enough in their actual behavior to fill the need.  Even when they are demonic enough it is frequently revealed, by simply listening to what they actually say, that the demons are themselves a form of liberal:

We all need to spend some time considering how best to defend liberty and freedom, and what unites us as a nation concerned with democratic values. – Timothy McVeigh

Liberalism is so utterly triumphant that it is frequently difficult to find enemies – actual real-world Low Men – who fit the storyline.  Without a Low Man “problem” to solve there can be no Final Solution.  So sometimes he has to be invented out of whole cloth.

Pseudonyms and the Overton window

September 25, 2013 § 39 Comments

In a comment thread at the blog Anarcho Papist, commenter Samson J. asks the following question about using pseudonyms versus real names on the Internet:

Can a pseudonymous movement shift the Overton window?

I suspect that this experiment has already been run.   The great majority of the Internet was pseudonymous before a twenty-something narcissist convinced a billion people to post all of the minute details of their lives and opinions on the public Internet under their real names.  YouTube used to explicitly advise people not to use their real names on line; now they are pushing toward it becoming a requirement under the Google+ initiative.  Heck, the Federalist Papers were written under a pseudonym, pushing the Overton window with musket-and-tricorne style.

So all you have to do to answer the question is ask yourself whether the Overton window is wider inside of Facebook or out in the blogosphere, where pseudonyms remain common, if not as pervasive as they once were.

Nixon goes to China

September 23, 2013 § 11 Comments

Pope Francis update.  HT Lamentably Sane.

Leftist larvae

September 9, 2013 § 14 Comments

Libertarianism is a political philosophy for children living off of a patrimony they don’t understand, the existence of which they simply take for granted. Libertarians actually seem to think it is possible to enforce property rights without “initiating force”, and this “live and let live” pseudo-passivity becomes the central moral justification for everything in their politics.

A leftist is just a libertarian who realizes that property is a form of traditional patriarchal lordship or authority (perhaps after reading a little Marx: the Marxist critique that classical liberalism is no true liberalism is quite trenchant). The relation between libertarian and leftist is similar to (and likely a modality of) the relation between modern and postmodern.  In each case the idealogue realizes a fundamental problem with his philosophy.  But rather than abandoning his philosophy as false he “maintains frame,” ups the ante, and embraces the incoherence.

Conservatism is just liberalism with a sea-anchor attached to keep it from moving too quickly in any given direction.  This helps conserve liberalism by preventing it from dashing itself on the rocks of mother nature.

This would all be rather academic and amusing if liberal modernity had not murdered orders of magnitude more innocent human beings than all previous political philosophies combined.

Monolithic authority and the libertarian error

September 8, 2013 § 33 Comments

Progtastic hipster liberal Christians have told me numerous times that stopping unjust war takes moral priority over stopping abortion, because unjust war is something that the government does itself whereas abortion is something individuals do.  Abortion is simply something that government refrains from forbidding, and even someone as venerable as St. Thomas Aquinas has affirmed that not everything that is immoral must be illegal.  The key difference then is that with unjust war the government is actively doing something evil in our name, whereas in the case of abortion government is simply declining to prevent evil perpetrated by others.

Many used this structure of reasoning as a way to justify voting for Barack Obama.  This looks more than a little ironic in retrospect.

But I thought I’d take a moment to unpack a false assumption at the root of this leftist nonsense: the assumption of monolithic authority.

Backing up for a moment, many of us no doubt recall the spectacle of police troopers surrounding the hospice where Terri Schaivo was being, uh, “allowed to die”.  The reason those troopers were there was to actively prevent Schaivo’s family members and others from attempting to give her food and water, even by mouth.  It was therefore an active act of murder, perpetrated by government.  It is one thing to fail to rescue someone who is in danger of dying, a passivity which may or may not be justifiable depending on the facts on the ground, other priorities, etc.  It is another thing entirely to actively prevent attempts at rescue by other parties.  The latter is murder, pure and simple.

Similarly, there is more going on in the abortion regime than a passive choice not to prevent and prosecute a certain kind of wrongdoing.  It involves a choice by one authority – the federal government, specifically the Supreme Court – to actively interfere with efforts by other legitimate authorities to prevent mass murder.  In the leftist view government is a single monolithic authority; back here in reality, we have always lived in a world of various and hierarchical authorities, each legitimate in its own right.

Libertarian/liberal/leftist ideologues are always trying to maintain frame, such that their active murders and other atrocities can be viewed as mere passivity: a ‘more rights less government’ passivity resting on the principle of equal freedom.

But it is all a big lie.  The US government has actively murdered 50 million or more children by its deliberate and direct actions.  Those deliberate actions weren’t unjust wars, and liberal supporters of falsely-framed-as-passive “hands off” abortion policy are – at best –  accessories to mass murder, formally cooperating with that mass murder.

Let them eat cake

September 6, 2013 § 15 Comments

The modern economic order is one in which many businesses, large and small, are required to take on customers that they don’t want.  New Sherwood has a clever idea about how to respond to liberal brownshirts who are using the law to force small business owners to (for example) bake “wedding” cakes for sodomites: pledge to donate all of the proceeds to Courage or similar organizations.

The analysis of material cooperation with evil is correct, as best as I can tell.  As in similar situations, compliance with the law under protest in order to sustain an ability to make a living is, again in my analysis, morally licit.

Nothing says “leave me and my business alone” like funneling all the revenues from your unwanted customers to organizations they find distasteful.

I’d even suggest that a Christian pharmacist ought to donate all of his contraceptive revenues to a big, mainstream anti-contraception organization.  That is, I’d suggest it if one existed.

Throwing in the towel is the one tradition American conservatives will always support

August 28, 2013 § 28 Comments

Joseph Bottum makes the usual prescribed dance move in the Hegelian Mambo.

Paul Zummo characterizes it like this:

Furthermore, there’s something thoroughly un-Catholic in Bottum’s white flag approach. I’m not just talking about the failure to defend and uphold Church teaching with regards to marriage. No, we have a faith that is rooted in the cross. Jesus, the ultimate sign of contradiction, gave up his ghost in the ultimate sacrifice to redeem mankind. Martyrs have spilled their blood to defend the faith in the centuries since then. Jesus told us that his teachings are hard, and that those who follow him would be shunned. Yet Bottum preaches the Gospel of “please don’t hate me.”

Yet I sense that despite ostensibly writing from a Catholic perspective in a Catholic publication, Bottum’s main concern is not really with the Catholic Church. No one with a passing familiarity with Church history could seriously claim that this is the thing that will make her lose legitimacy or blunt the import of her overall message. No, this is ultimately nothing more than Bottum’s attempt to salvage (in his mind) the Republican party and move the debate along because he thinks it is damaging to his political party.

(HT Scott).

I agree.  Gay “marriage” is not something any self-respecting Catholic should ever compromise and go silent on for the sake of “fitting in” politically; any more than one should compromise and go silent on no-fault divorce, legalized contraception, or the Jeffersonian/Lockean heresy that the legitimacy of government authority derives from the consent of the governed.

Evil for the win!

May 29, 2013 § 26 Comments

Suppose Bob has a plan to achieve good end X.

Suppose that in order to succeed at achieving good end X, Bob’s plan requires that Dave must form an evil intention.[*]  Suppose further that Bob plans to act in some concrete way – say by speaking to Dave – in order to convince him to form that specific evil intention.

Bob’s act – perhaps of speaking to Dave – is formal cooperation with evil.  Bob is deliberately trying to produce a specific evil intention in another human being. Bob’s plans will fail if Dave fails to form the specific evil intention.

In the terminology of double-effect, the evil effect (Dave forming a specific evil intention to commit a specific evil act) is a necessary cause of the good effect that Bob seeks.  But an act can never be justified, under the principle of double-effect, when an evil effect is required as the cause of the intended good effect.


[*] This reasoning holds even if it is part of Bob’s plan for Dave’s evil intention to be thwarted by circumstances.

Kicking them while they are down for Jesus

May 29, 2013 § 69 Comments

It has been suggested that it is morally acceptable for pro-life operatives to lie to abortion clinic workers, requesting an abortion that one does not intend to carry out, because clinic workers are already known to be formally cooperating in other abortions.

On top of the naked consequentialism in this approach to lying, it completely inverts the moral theology of scandal.

Under the moral theology of scandal even an otherwise morally acceptable behavior – which lying is not – can be sinful if it leads another person to sin.  Formal cooperation with evil – like a clinic worker agreeing to help someone get an abortion, or a slut agreeing to sleep with her seducer – is sinful.  Formal cooperation with evil is sinful even when the intention to do evil is thwarted by circumstances.  A tempter who is lying is just such a circumstance.

The moral theology of scandal is directed toward the protection of those who are vulnerable to temptation.  Even if an action is not evil in itself, it can become evil if it tempts another person to form an evil intention or perform an evil act.  The fact that a person may be a habitual sinner in general does not remotely begin to excuse specifically and deliberately creating the near occasion for a specific, new sin.

Women have harems too

March 23, 2013 § 351 Comments

The term “slut” is a female-specific insult referring to a woman with loose sexual mores. Egalitarians are frustrated by the supposed fact that no insult with equivalent social sting applies to men, which, like all double-standards, is just not fair. The unfairness of it all has become so acute that, taking their cue from militant homosexuals, sluts now literally organize themselves into parades proclaiming their sluthood. The only way to rid themselves of the unfair and hypocritical stigma associated with their evil behaviour is to shout to the heavens that evil is good and good is evil. Otherwise they’d have to do that whole repentance thing; and what fun is that?

The manosphere, impressed by the unfairness of the double standard and doing its level best to help, has proposed that there actually is a roughly equivalent insult for men: coward. This is a useful comparison in terms of the social sting of the evaluation: a man labeled coward bears an approximately equivalent social sting to a woman labeled slut. It is also useful because sluthood is unladylike behavior and cowardice is unmanly behavior, generally speaking.

But sluthood refers to specific concrete behaviors and attitudes, while cowardice is a much more general category. Furthermore, cowardice is not a specifically sexual behavior. So we may be able to gain a deeper insight into what is going on in the modern dysfunctional intersexual dynamic if we look at the male side of the dance a bit more concretely.

The punch line for those who need a motivation to read my further rambling – or a reason not to – is that from an intersexual behavior standpoint, the male equivalent of a slut is the beta orbiter. Modernity has turned sexuality into a buffet: what used to be a loving commitment for life to a particular person, where sexual intimacy and provision formed the mutual society of a family, has turned into cafeteria sexuality wherein people are encouraged to assemble their ideal virtual mate from the disparate contributions of different real people. Like the slut who gives away her sexuality on the cheap, accepting sexual attention with no commitment or provision, the beta orbiter gives away his provision and commitment without any corresponding receptivity to his sexual attentions.

In what follows I will use the term “sexual attention” to refer to those interactive behaviors wherein a woman takes a man seriously as a potential mate. I will leave it deliberately vague; but it doesn’t have to imply escalation to intrinsically immoral behaviors. As usual on this subject I am attempting to clarify the theory: how well or comprehensively that theory corresponds to reality is something about which I’ve expressed any number of doubts myself, though I do think it is useful as a foundation for discussion.

The theory of hypergamy proposes that the top (say) 20-ish percent of men are more than willing to shower sexual attention on the top (say) 60-ish percent of women[1]. That doesn’t mean that the average male nine is generally willing to marry or commit to the average female six: just that he is willing to give her sexual attention. So at one point in the buffet line the average socially functional female six can scoop some male eight or nine onto her social plate.

Because the modern world is a sexual cafeteria the notion of monogomous pairing in marriage to one partner for life is largely dead, and as a result the modern woman can assemble her ideal virtual man from the disparate contributions of different real men. This results in a situation where most young women find it relatively easy to attract sexual attention “above their marriage grade”. They become accustomed to finding the men actually in their marriage grade unattractive.

Beta orbiting is a male behavior which is symmetrical to slutty female behavior: mirror image graphics could probably be drawn. (I haven’t thought through exactly what they would look like, but if there is interest I may give it a go). The key difference is found in the premise (goes the theory) that women are the gatekeepers of sexual attention, while men are the gatekeepers of commitment and provisioning. In the modern sexual cafeteria attractive women are generally willing to accept some providing attention from less attractive men, while rejecting their sexual attention. Attractive men, on the other hand, are willing to shower sexual attention on less attractive women while rejecting commitment to those less attractive women.

In addition to being a form of lie on the personal level this results in a very dysfunctional social dynamic, especially as virginity-at-marriage becomes almost nonexistent. Women become accustomed to sleeping with men who would never marry them; they find the men who are willing to marry them unattractive. And even when a woman has managed to stay chaste she has become accustomed to getting male sexual attention well above her marriage grade.

What this gets us to is a definition of slutty behavior that doesn’t require a reductionist accounting of certain kinds or numbers of sexual acts, and at the same time is not reducible to some ineffable interior disposition or attitude. Slutty behavior is when a woman accepts sexual attention from a man without any corresponding commitment and provisioning. This raises another interesting point: the female version of caddish behavior is the LJBF (lets just be friends) acceptance of the unrequited attentions of beta orbiters.

Just as the cad doesn’t feel a social sting for having his harem of sluts, LJBF-girl doesn’t feel a social sting for having her harem of beta orbiters. And what follows, I think, is that things will just keep getting worse unless and until fewer women engage in slutty behavior and fewer men engage in beta orbiting behavior. Shaming the cads isn’t going to work.


[1] For the sake of simplicity my graphic only shows a single slice of what is actually a set of multidimensional gradients. The ‘picture’ viewed from the point of view of an average male nine and an average female six will look different from the picture viewed from the perspective of an average male seven and an average female four; but the relative shapes of everything, and the intersexual dynamic it generates, remain more or less how I’ve drawn it.

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