Greed consumes lust

June 19, 2017 § 11 Comments

Discussing usury in a previous post, Wood asks:

Why are we so susceptible to this particular sin, or at least why did the Enemy choose to attack here? Why do we “want” to be so blind here?

The idea that wealth can be conjured out of nothing, that we can create wealth ex nihilo, is very alluring. Look at the appeal of lotteries, “who wants to be a millionaire” game shows, and other kinds of gambling. Wealth is even more appealing than sex: in fact most people assume that wealth is fungible with sex, and other things besides. So wealth is better than sex. Wealth is a superset of sex: greed consumes lust.

Usury creates the illusion that wealth can be conjured ex nihilo by making an incantation, by speaking a magic spell: the personal IOU.  Usury empowers us to speak into the void and say “let there be money!”; and there was money, and also sex, because those with money get sex as a concomitant.

Wonder Woman is a female eunuch

June 9, 2017 § 59 Comments

The shield maiden is in fact an ancient archetype, notable precisely because she is an exception and very much not a feminine role model for women in general; just as for example the eunuch is an ancient archetype and very much not a masculine role model.  Observe modernity’s expectation that the ideal man is basically a eunuch; the ideal woman a shield maiden.

The existence of these ancient archetypes combined with “choose whatever you want to be, except that only subhumans make the tyrannical traditional choice” modernity is toxic.

The daddy issues of modernity

June 2, 2017 § 29 Comments

The natural law gives rise to absolute and categorical negatives: to absolute prohibitions which morally bind always and everywhere to prohibit certain kinds of behavior, independent of intentions and circumstances. Murder, contracting for usury, torture, and adultery are always and without exception morally wrong kinds of behavior.  Once a contemplated action is recognized as intrinsically immoral in species it is always morally wrong to choose that behavior.

It is also always morally wrong to intend the intrinsically immoral behavior of others, either as a means or an end.  We call this formal cooperation with evil.

The authority of particular men arises from and builds upon the natural law.  A father has authority over his children by nature; his imposition of a particular bedtime morally binds his children to obedience in virtue of his natural authority qua father.  We call the particular commands of a person in authority positive law.  For brevity I will refer to “the person in authority” as “the sovereign“.

Positive law can take two different forms.

In one form of positive law the sovereign directly asserts a particular command in a particular concrete situation: go to bed right now.

In another form of positive law, the sovereign promulgates a normative rule:  in thus and such a circumstance, this is to be done. Bedtime is eight o’clock.

Commands from authority are not the only kind of positive law.  For example we all have a positive natural law moral obligation to give alms: to materially support the poor and downtrodden, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

But it is fundamentally impossible for positive law to morally bind us to particular actions under all conceivable circumstances. Positive law is always by its very nature regulated by prudence. Going to bed at eight o’clock when the house is on fire would be a kind of mechanical rule-following which makes no sense under the particular circumstances. The positive rule is normative, but cannot by its nature be categorical.

I can’t explain this more plainly than the Church itself explains it:

Furthermore, what must be done in any given situation depends on the circumstances, not all of which can be foreseen; on the other hand there are kinds of behaviour which can never, in any situation, be a proper response — a response which is in conformity with the dignity of the person. Finally, it is always possible that man, as the result of coercion or other circumstances, can be hindered from doing certain good actions; but he can never be hindered from not doing certain actions, especially if he is prepared to die rather than to do evil.

Rules, procedures, and written law are not capable of becoming transubstantiated incarnations of authority itself.  The crafting of positive rules, the writing of text onto paper, is not a sacrament. Bureaucracy cannot become a substitute for fathers, daycares cannot become a substitute for mothers, and formal decision procedures cannot become a substitute for kings.

This is distressing to the modern mind, which desperately wants to believe that a politics with minimized authority is not merely coherent, not merely possible, but is the only moral state of affairs.

Ultimately though reality doesn’t really care about the daddy issues of modernity. Pervasive commitment to an incoherent conception of authority doesn’t make authority go away as a feature of reality: it merely makes authority sociopathic.

The social media panopticon

May 18, 2017 § 32 Comments

Jeremy Bentham famously invented the idea of the panopticon, initially as a way to manage prisoners in a maximally efficient way.  The architecture of the panopticon enabled a single guard to monitor a large number of prisoners simultaneously.

Being a modernist, Bentham started seeing the benefits of universal surveillance in all sorts of other areas of life.  (He was also in favor of animal rights, a right to sodomy, etc — in the 1700’s, mind you).  After all, as long as you aren’t doing something that offends the gods why should you care that you are constantly being watched?  This is obviously an efficient way to design a civil society with minimal violence; a society which does not require a lot of messy exercise of easily-abused authority, authority which in any case just falls to certain people by accident of birth.  Nothing about universal surveillance in itself interferes with a person’s freedom.

Bentham’s vision has taken a long time to materialize because (as it turns out) most people don’t really like living under the constant surveillance of prison guards; guards who just might view them as less than fully human, possibly tomorrow if not in the Current Year.

But Mark Zuckerberg found a way to convince a billion people to voluntarily enter the panopticon.  He baited the trap with an irresistible siren:  a perpetual High School reunion, pictures of grandkids, and cat videos.

The self-inflicted lobotomy of a society gone mad

May 17, 2017 § 21 Comments

There exist in our world what we might call ‘social beings’: institutions or communities which are composed of individual human beings but which are not reducible to nothing but the aggregation of individual human beings. Social beings transcend individuals in the sense that they are not reducible to individuals. I don’t have an overarching theory of these transcendent social beings, but I know that Italy is not reducible to the collection of all individual Italians, Catholicism is not reducible to the collection of all individual Catholics, etc.

We can refer to the good of these social beings as the common good.

Authority is a natural and essential organ of these transcendent social beings, much as the brain and nervous system are a natural and essential organ of individual human beings.

Liberalism is (as a specifically political doctrine), at least in its more advanced forms, an attempt to reduce this transcendent social organ (authority) to nothing but the collected free and equal wills of the individuals who make up a polity.  Opposing itself to natural authority as inherently tyrannical, liberalism insists that all authority must be mediated through the triumph of the human will. Authority as a real organ which transcends the consent of the governed is denied.

Liberalism is an attempt to build, if you will, a completely brainless and mechanical society in the name of emancipation from the privileges of natural authority: it is the self-inflicted lobotomy of a society gone mad.

The right to life, liberty, and cows

May 13, 2017 § 120 Comments

Modern people have been trained by centuries of usury (among other things) to have a hard time distinguishing between an actual thing and the mere idea of a thing.  

In the case of usury this failure to perceive the difference between real things and mere ideas shows up in how contracts for profit are secured: as St. Francis Xavier put it, “in the whole matter of security for contracts”.  A non-usurious contract for profit is secured by property which actually exists, and only that specifed property.  A usurious contract for profit is secured by (sometimes in addition to some actual property) the mere idea of property: by a personal IOU.

A pledge to give an investor a cow next year is not — the pledge is not — an actual cow.  It is not usurious to pledge to give an investor a cow next year as part of a contract for profit; but only so long as that pledge is secured by some property which actually does exist, which fully discharges the obligation.  The pledge is not to hand over a cow next year simpliciter, but to hand over either the actually existent security or a cow, thereby fully discharging the borrower’s obligation.  A well structured contract will incentivise but not guarantee the latter.

The term ‘right’ is (like many terms) multivocal, kind of like the term ‘cow’. A right which actually has teeth is a particular right: a specific exercise of discriminating authority which trumps all other claims in a particular instance, treating one specific claim as superior to all other claims. Bob is the owner and Fred is the trespasser, so Fred must depart Bob’s property or be dragged off to jail.

Other uses of the term ‘right’ include talking about abstract categories of rights as opposed to actual rights. Again, kind of like cows. The idea that everyone has an equal right to (e.g) property is like (indeed is a superset of) the idea that everyone has an equal right to cows.

If this right is actual as opposed to abstract then it pertains to a particular cow or cows; and no particular cow is equal to any other particular cow. If Fred slaughters and eats Bob’s beef, he goes to jail.  

Furthermore, many people don’t have a cow (other than metaphorically, when all of this is pointed out). The mere idea of beef is not a meal equivalent to actual beef.

There is nothing more authoritative and discriminatory than an actual right; nothing more empty and unreal than an abstract right with no instantiation.  Owning a hypothetical cow is categorically distinct from owning an actual cow.  Reality is categorically distinct from fiction.

It is sometimes suggested that my understanding of liberalism is flawed because it relies on a concept of rights which is “absolute”.  But what critics see as “absolute” in my criticism of liberalism is simply recognition that the difference between reality and fiction is a categorical distinction, not a matter of gradiation. The difference between the idea of a cow and an actual cow is not a matter of moving along some continuum of compromise with a possible happy medium. Being and non-being are absolutely distinct.

The liberal war on authoritative particularity arises from its commitment to political liberty framed in terms of rights: arises from the fact that nothing discriminates (contra equality) and constrains (contra liberty) like actual, real, existent particular things.  And conservative liberalism, as the more sane and commonsensical sphere of liberal societies, makes the mistake of believing that a happy medium is possible between reality and the void.

Nazis dancing on the head of a pin

May 1, 2017 § 33 Comments

My post The Products of Inception deliberately evokes the modern morally sanitizing euphemism “products of conception,” which refers to the post mortem object of the abortionist’s ministrations: the dismembered remains of her human victim.

There can be all sorts of personal motivations, as with murder more generally speaking, when it comes to murdering (or contracting the murder of) one’s own child.  Liberalism (in its feminist aspect) isn’t always and necessarily what motivates individual choices to abort.  Sometimes it likely isn’t a significant factor at all.

What feminism does is construct a social world in which abortion is considered a right, and is deemed necessary in many cases in order to carry out the imperative of female emancipation.

Nazism, likewise, isn’t always and necessarily what motivates rounding up undesirables into camps and exterminating them.  Nazism merely constructs a social reality which makes doing so necessary.

Liberalism considered purely in itself, as an abstracted idea to which nobody is committed even as a kind of default, doesn’t cause mass murder.  What causes mass murder is the crushing impact of the liberal commitments of governing regimes , ruling classes, and whole populations as these social forces come crashing into reality.

Folks who like to think in terms of academic ideas isolated from reality, clinically examined in the laboratory of the mind, sometimes object that – despite express commitment to freedom and equality of rights among the herrenvolk – nazis and other moderns don’t really fit the “liberal” label.

I’m OK with that.  No, really.  Debate over whether mass-murdering modernist regimes are all forms of “liberalismstrictly speaking, as opposed to the perfectly understandable (and inevitable) results of liberalism crashing into reality, itself represents a radical pullback from the real world and into an abstract mind laboratory.

So feel free to insist that nazism and communism are not forms of liberalism, strictly speaking.  From my point of view this is just counting nazis dancing on the head of a pin.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Dystopia category at Zippy Catholic.