March 28, 2017 § 37 Comments
Liberalism – making freedom a political priority – is, at bottom, rationally incoherent. But it is easy to see how folks committed to it might come to see having more options – independent of whether those options are or are not of any objective value – as something to be encouraged and pursued. Doctrine abstracted and analyzed in itself is one thing. As an active social force in a population of real people it is another. Under liberalism authority and tradition come to be (selectively) seen as something to be overcome, so the number of available options tends to proliferate in direct proportion to the amoral trivial banality of those options. You can live in any kind of city you want as long as it sports modern architecture, Starbucks, gay pride parades, and its own vibrant Little Somalia.
Against my better judgment I got into a combox back and forth with a commenter on donalgrame about whether modern men have a harder time pursuing the good in marriage and family than modern women: whether women, objectively speaking, have better options available than men when it comes to pursuing the good in sex and marriage. I’ve noted before that modern people can get as much sexual stimulation as they want: what has become increasingly difficult is pursuing the good in sex and marriage, not pursuing ultimately self-destructive and unsatisfactory hedonism.
One of the things that constantly comes up is that, because men and women are different, the kind of immoral sexual stimulation available to women differs from the kind of immoral sexual stimulation available to men. Sure, men can immerse themselves in pornography and masturbation all they want, and can even go to a strip bar or hire a hooker. But the average woman has greater empowerment to fornicate specifically than the average man, because in modern hookup culture 80% of the women are fornicating with 20% of the men.
It follows (!) that men have a harder time pursuing the good in sex and marriage than women.
But at the end of the day, this is like arguing that meth heads have it so much better than heroin addicts. Modernity does indeed produce a marketplace of all sorts of degenerate choices; but anyone who can’t see that making good choices has become harder for everyone is living under a rock.
October 14, 2016 § 21 Comments
If you want to succeed in marrying, having children, and raising a family, you have to be prepared to judge the right time to grab a woman unexpectedly and kiss her without waiting for her explicit consent.
If you want to avoid charges of sexual assault you must never even consider grabbing a woman unexpectedly and kissing her without waiting for her explicit consent.
June 5, 2016 § 32 Comments
Reader GJ uses the term “weaponized ambiguity” in the comments below, as a cognate of what I have called weaponized nihilism and of what others have referred to as the motte-and-bailey strategy. These are of course all forms of the venerable bait and switch, with the psychological feature that the person doing the arguing may be unaware of his equivocation.
Weaponized ambiguity strikes me, not without irony, as a very clarifying term. It captures and clarifies the way in which the execrable hides behind the banal and tautological.
Examples are always helpful.
Feminism is just the acknowledgment that women are people too … when it isn’t instigating mass murder.
Game is a toolbox of techniques which empower a man to be socially dominant … so pay no attention to the fact that the reason you will only learn it from the male equivalent of sluts is that it is the male equivalent of sluttiness.
Usury is charging unjust interest on loans … pay no attention to the fact that usury is any contractual profit at all on mutuum loans, and that even unjust interest charged on non recourse loans is not usury strictly speaking. The main thing we need to do is to avoid moral clarity.
Contraception involves a purely subjective feeling that you want sex but do not want a baby right now. Pay no attention to the minor matter of choosing objectively mutilated sexual behaviors versus abstinence.
And adultery is sex outside of marriage. But of course you can marry whomever or whatever you want whenever you want, and marriage lasts only as long as you want it to last.
Which is how Humanae Vitae becomes Vix Pervenit.
February 26, 2016 § 55 Comments
Adultery is okay, but only if you don’t just keep a mistress, but also in her favor eject your wife. Spilling your seed is okay, but only if you make sure there’s still a chance of infecting a partner. In both cases, the sin is less obvious–one gets the appearance of a normal marriage and normal marriage relations–but the appearance is bought with the commission of a second sin. Would not consistent mercy be even more merciful?
That is certainly true objectively speaking. But the important thing in modern life is not what happens in objective reality. The important thing in modern life is maintaining our illusions. Shattering illusions is even more unmerciful than infecting your partner with AIDS.
December 18, 2015 § 36 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?
November 7, 2015 § 25 Comments
Dante did not put usurers and sodomites into the same circle of Hell by accident.
Reality always asserts itself, so nobody can get away with comprehensively ignoring reality all the time. When I say that all modern economic theories (including the ones you like, not just the ones you dislike) are anti-realist, I do not mean that they are postmodern. Postmodern theories look at the hopelessness of the positivist project – which is an anti-realist project, since it attempts to fully capture reality in formal representation, to reduce some demarcated part of reality to nothing but symbolic representation or a metaphysically neutral verification procedure – and pretend to give up on objective reality altogether. This becomes immediately rather ridiculous to sane and well adjusted onlookers, because directly and explicitly rejecting reality is something that it takes a peculiarly pointy-headed intellectual form of sociopathic stupidity to do.
Anti-realist economic theories (which is to say, all existing economic theories of which I am aware) therefore are not entirely disconnected from reality. There are true things which can be learned even from wrong theories: stopped clocks and all that. The sodomite’s understanding of reality is not comprehensively wrong in every respect: his understanding is a distorted and disordered view of reality, not a beaker of distilled and purified falsity. Every lie has to have some grounding in the truth in order to get any traction at all; although the more lies take hold, the less that is the case.
The thing that distinguishes anti-realist economic theories from a realist theory of economics, which as far as I know does not exist, is that anti-realist theories attempt in various critical places to reduce value and/or property to nothing but the projection of subjective human intentions, understandings, preferences, will, or desire. What you may notice is that this often involves abstracting together unlike things as if they were the same kind of thing: securitizing unreality, if you will, at least metaphorically speaking but sometimes literally. A realist perspective, in contrast, does not deny the importance of the subjective and psychological but recognizes that there is an irreducibly objective aspect at work too. (This is true in moral theology as well, where the morality of human action cannot be reduced to nothing but subjective intentions). As with all lies anti-realist economic systems would fall apart immediately if they were pure nothingness: if there were not some anchor in reality. So the thing to look for, if you really want to take the economic version of the ‘red pill’, are the places where metaphysically anti-realist finance marbles together the irreducibly real with the purely subjective into a thing it calls ‘cake’, and which it says we must all eat.
In sex, analogously, look at the manifest conflation of sodomy with intercourse. Look at the manifest conflation of the masculine with the feminine. Look at the more subtle conflation of ‘dating’ and serial fornication (as opposed to parallel fornication, which is Really Bad, at least for now) with marriage. Look at the conflation of self sacrifice (what a husband and father owes his family) with authority (the obedience the family owes to the father), and the labeling of these entirely unlike things ‘mutual submission’. Look at the conflation of committed self-sacrifice with fickle and fleeting emotions, both under the label ‘love’.
And continue looking from there, because the most important thing that waking up to the obvious examples shows is that we can be fooled by the obvious. Nominalist pseudo-categories conflating things rooted in reality with what human subjects want, intend, or expect are absolutely necessary for the lie to continue. This only works as long as most people carefully avoid noticing the introduction of anti-realist poison into their thoughts: as long as repentance is avoided at all costs.
It may help to think of accounting as the mathematics of property; of finance as the physics and engineering of property; of economics as the meteorology of property. In modern accounting, an “IOU” or “note receivable” can mean a claim against some actual pool of property, or it can mean the securitization through usury of nothing but a promise made by a borrower to personally repay. Said sightly differently an entry on the asset inventory of a balance sheet can mean a claim against some actual pool of property, or it can just be the counter-entry to a personal IOU. A note payable can mean the impairment of some actual property, or it can mean that a person is on the hook to come up with some amount of money — an IOU. The ‘fractional reserve’ is either cash and equivalent liquid property kept on hand that a property aggregator/securitizer (bank) can use to satisfy demand deposits under normal operating conditions, or it is a magical delegation of power by the sovereign which permits banks to create currency out of nothing but personal IOU’s through an accounting trick. You aren’t supposed to notice the difference; because as soon as you notice the difference, the jig is up.
The conflation of reality with unreality doesn’t just make folks think that unreal things are real though. It also makes folks think that real things are unreal. A husband and father’s authority is just tyranny, because people don’t feel like they should be morally obliged to obey flawed human beings (unless they agree with the command; that is, unless it isn’t a command). The wife’s commitment to satisfy the marriage debt is rape. Taxation is theft, because the sovereign’s role in the functioning of industries, markets, and property in general doesn’t exist. And sovereign currency is mere fiat not a security against actual valuable property, even though it actually does entitle the bearer to the settlement of tax liabilities which he incurs in carrying out public commerce in the sovereign’s marketplaces. (More on the backward troglodyte financially ignorant medieval perspective on sovereign marketplaces can be explored here).
Once the ‘red pill’ hits you, though, you’ve got a choice.
You can plant your triumphant flag right there at the starting line, next to the naked emperor and the madmen wandering about in the desolation, and enjoy the delightful company of fellow sociopaths.
Or you can start looking for the more subtle ways in which unreality has been mixed into your reality. You can become a digger.
 and : The ‘fiat currency isn’t real’ crowd, it seems to me, is rather too credulous about the willingness of private bankers to accept payment in literally meaningless bits of paper or numbers in computers which represent nothing but themselves, on nothing but the sovereign’s say so. I’ve never known a banker, of all people, to hand out actually valuable property in exchange for something literally worthless. That is the domain of timeshare purchasers and other victims of hucksters. Bankers may often be evil, but they are not stupid.
October 30, 2015 § 27 Comments
Folks are always asking me what we should do from a practical standpoint, given the pervasive triumph of the satanic lies of progressive leftism even within Catholicism. Mostly I think we are just in the hands of Providence. Prayer and fasting and the sacraments are the best things, and living our own lives in the best way we can. Feed the hungry, admonish the sinner, and engage in the other works of mercy. Mostly that is really all anyone can do, all Christians have ever been able to do in the Vale of Tears.
But every now and then, you might feel like picking up a shovel and scooping another little bit of dirt away from the foundations of Barad-dûr.
If you buy the premise that the current progressive freak show is a product of metaphysical anti-realism, and that popular metaphysical anti-realism is a result of pervasively practiced anti-realism in modern economic life, then where to plant your shovel starts to reveal itself. Direct confrontation with progressivism over sex and marriage isn’t likely to get anywhere, because sex and marriage sit at the top of the anti-realist edifice, right next to the Great Eye with all of its current attentions and ministrations. In order to be there at all you have to stand atop a vast tower of unreality.
It seems to me that it makes more sense to take a shovel to the foundation, not the ramparts. The bottom of the anti-realist Tower of Mordor sits in darkness, a haze where little can be seen. For the most part, most people don’t even know what usury means anymore. Most people think that authority is the problem. But every new person who learns, who understands, who accepts is a tiny shovelful of dirt carried away from the foundations sitting in the rock miles beneath the Great Eye. We might be able to spade away there for quite some time without attracting too much notice.
If you do decide to dig there, make sure you don’t get distracted by the anti-realist rats scurrying around the foundations, infectious modernist ideas whispering lunatic missives against fiat currency and fractional reserve banking, murmuring about the virtues of hoards of gold and how greed is good. They too, witting or unwitting, are just servants of Mordor, creatures embracing unreality as if it were Being, darkness as if it were light. The fact that they don’t sit next to the Great Eye in the Circle of Sodom doesn’t make them servants of the light. They are there to chew out your eyes while you sleep, so that reality becomes obscure as you wander about blind and desolate in the darkness on the barren plains of Mordor.
Maybe there is a Frodo out there somewhere, carrying a great and terrible Ring toward the Mountain of Fire as I write this. I don’t know. We don’t even get the comfort of knowing that there is a frail Ring-Bearer out there with his lone companion; just the comfort that in the end, the light has already triumphed and this darkness too shall pass.
But in the meantime you’ll sometimes find me down here in the murk, digging one little shovelful at a time in the rocky and treacherous ground. I have no great hope of toppling this vast Dark Tower with my little shovel, or even with an army of thousands of shovels.
But I’ll still dig. It is worth digging simply for the sake of defying the Evil One in the name of what is good, true, and beautiful.
There is some good in this world; and it is worth fighting for.