Experts and lunacy

Those are the topics of my last two pieces published elsewhere, a column at Catholic World Report about why the Church is so much at odds with secular journalists and academics, and a piece at Crisis about the ultimate instability of the liberal order.

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14 thoughts on “Experts and lunacy

  1. I am not at all confident of the impending collapse of the liberal order. One thing for certain is that rank and file Catholics simply cannot be counted on to make any waves. If there was a time for action it was 40 years ago with the legalization of abortion. In fact even at this early date, many iconic “conservative” Catholics like Bill Buckley went out of their way to sabotage any kind of Catholic or Christian militancy in response to abortion which should have stopped this scourge at the source. Buckley and his acolytes did all of this in the name of “respectability.”

    Well Buckley and the neo-cons certainly made great headway in the name of economic freedom their true god all along. Even today, finance capitalism largely operates as it always has done and the gap between rich and poor has grown to the greatest extent seen in nearly a century. Then on the other hand there pervades a moral individualism across the country. Everything is permissible – there are no limits. SSM is now officially sanctioned. Pot is now legal in several states. Trads cannot even pass modest abortion restrictions in deep red states like Mississippi and yet pot initiatives seem to go from success to success. So much for the vaunted “state’s rights” strategy chirped on about by certain “strategists” who push it as some kind of fix all. Libertarians, like other leftists incessantly complain because 100% of their goals haven’t been reached but who can deny that philosophic liberal(tarian)ism is so deeply ingrained in the American landscape that trads are forced to adopt the language of liberal(tarian)ism (e.g. “Right” to Life. “Religious Freedom”) just to make their points cognizable? Liberalism has managed to augment itself and incorporate other elements in order to ensure it’s survival but as Mr. Roebuck noted the same rotten essence remains – its is all about radical freedom from the divine order.

    • If there is anything at all we can be confident in, it is the impending collapse of the liberal order. And precisely for the reason you state in the final sentence of your post. We just can’t be sure of the day or the hour, nor of the events that will precipitate the collapse, as Mr. Kalb points out in his articles.

      • As Zippy says, “impending” on a cosmological scale, maybe, but not the scale of human events. I seem to recall JMSmith saying once that it’d be two centuries or so before religious folk swamp nonreligious ones demographically, and it’s worth remembering, as Bill said once, that we can’t really expect leftists to just roll over and surrender their winnings without at least a half-hearted attempt to exterminate us as usual.

      • “it’d be two centuries or so before religious folk swamp nonreligious ones demographically”

        The nonreligious folks today descend from religious grandfathers and great-grandfathers. We are not talking about two nationalities but two spiritualities and nothing demographic may be asserted.

    • Aye Proph. It is worth keeping in mind that liberalism – or modernity, if one insists that the term “liberalism” only applies to modernity in its fat, dumb and happy state – is capable of breathtaking acts of overt mass violence, not just FDH hidden-in-plain-sight mass murder like abortion. Modernity is a parasite; but it is a parasite with astonishing survival skills.

    • Agreed. I guess I should have exchanged eventual for impending. I certainly live under no delusion that the existing order will collapse in my lifetime, nor that of my children for that matter. Short of the miraculous, of course.

    • The basic point is that we know it can’t last forever but can’t know when it will stop functioning in accordance with its principles or when something distinctively different will replace it. It may be centuries. On the other hand, it may be much sooner. If you have a very complex formal organization of things that intentionally disrupts and replaces the informal customary arrangements that enable life to go forward when there are problems with the formal system then things can become much simpler and much more brutal very quickly. Who knows whether whoever ends up in power will like liberal slogans? And how will it be possible to put liberalism back together when you have a radically fragmented and degraded populace and the liberal ruling class has been discredited as out of touch with reality? It doesn’t seem to me they’re getting smarter.

      • Yeah, when Kerensky was asked why he did not have Lenin shot, he answered that he did not know Lenin was important. If something kills liberalism, that something will likely do it by sneaking up in some blind spot.

      • If things were to remain exactly the same as today, then I would agree that liberalism is here to stay. Despite its totalizing aspirations, it is actually quite decentralized and organically entrenched. It is not going anywhere anytime soon. But things are always changing.

        1. Liberalism requires a very high level of material prosperity to maintain. Dysgenics and the large scale importation of foreign peasants mean that that is not going to last forever.

        2. Unless, smart religious people start to pick up the slack. Religious people already have higher birthrates than the non-religious, and they buck the dysgenic trend. The high heritability of these kinds of traits means that defections are likely to be fairly minimal from now on (and we might even be able to pull a few fence sitters back onto our side once we gain momentum).

        I am very pessimistic in the short term, but optimistic in the long term.

      • Liberalism is organic and decentralized in some ways but so is Alzheimers. It takes a certain degree of of social loyalty and coherence to function and it destroys those things. It also undermines the ability to engage with reality and that bodes ill for any political regime. Immigration policy is not the only instance of increasingly radical irrationality.

  2. > People who act in a public capacity feel called upon to act in accordance with principles that are publicly accepted as authoritative. That’s why Supreme Court justices and philosophy professors say the things they do: they want to speak and act in a way that is publicly supportable.

    AnomalyUK once wrote something very similar, but slightly better I think, which so struck me that I went back to look it up again.

    –And it really applies to anyone acting in any committee or bureau capacity, not only in the ‘public capacity’ you mention. Say a large hospital, where you have vast benefits from having this congeries of experts with enormous complementary libraries of learning, but where you also encounter wild stupidities, in my direct experience. —

    Anyway, what he said was that people will go with what they think can best be justified to others, not with what they think is true. (Or at best they compromise between odds-of-being-true and justifiability-to-others.) What they think is true often rests on factors that are multitudinous and vague, even intuitive — often reliant on the mind’s ability to assess people and events in somewhat the way a soccer player would read a field scenario, or a man complete a rapid pencil sketch. Unacceptably unscientific and unformalizeable! The results of slanting heavily toward the justifiable are often prima facie ludicrous, but to be anything less than a full heir of the Enlightenment would be even more humiliating. In one case it was amusingly easy for me to identify the single person in a room who was not going to rally and weave herself into the groupthink thing: though she took some measures to subdue them, that was plain to me from her tone and demeanor over a minute or two — these being, in composite, a weary ‘facepalm’ so to speak.

    What lies at the antipodes of this, in my mind, is Rousseau’s description of his young life in a society that ‘functioned’ (the very word is a little appalling, along with ‘appropriate’) through people /knowing each other/. And just doing what’s natural. And coming together, presumably, partly on the basis of personality. Some priest didn’t need authorization to give Rousseau further instruction in Latin. He just saw intuitively that he was smart, complimentary in ways of mind to himself, etc, so it would probably be workable to teach him some Latin, so he did. Too bad Rousseau himself didn’t understand this society better. Everything in it works this way, and to me it sounds infinitely inviting. Moral standards are rigorous (especially in public!), but other than that, nothing is ‘standardized’ in the least. It is anything but, and all relations stem in very large part from complementarity of personality. The idea that all people would be suitable for X or X for all people is basically unheard of.

    Needless to add, this whole perspective is colored by my own trait of being mildly eccentric; I would like the standardized world a little better if I were more average. But come on, I’m not that terrible.

    • [[this comment may be confusing if my longer one, above it, is still in moderation queue]] The terrible thing about hospital doctors is that they have to write these summary reports. Like five or twenty sentences. Which can – yikes! – be seen by potentially scores of different colleagues! Weeks, perhaps years from now! The horror! (Not to mention malpractice accusations and all that.) These summaries are therefore the epitome of the ‘assiduously justifiable, not necessarily true’. In the phrasings and superadded details of junior docs, the craving to be ‘justified’ is truly palpable.

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