Atheism, Agnosticism and Cultural Low Self-esteem

I think … the skeptics are taking over atheism. …I am an agnostic,

because I believe that is the human condition, and I am a skeptic,

because I believe that is the most efficient way to live my life.

A recent comment at the Orthosphere

 Atheism and its twin brother agnosticism are usually descriptions of individuals. But they’re also cultural forces, shaping society and in turn being shaped by the society in which they live and move and have their being.

[For brevity, I shall refer to them both as “atheism,” for they’re essentially identical at the level of day-to day operations.]

What has atheism to do with low cultural self-esteem? Just this: Atheism, especially today’s variety, makes a virtue of not believing. But skepticism weakens a man and a nation, leading ultimately to ruin unless countered by a renewal of belief.

Think of it: What character trait is today nearly-universally held to be the greatest virtue? Which trait is most praised? The absence of which trait is loathed most deeply and punished most harshly?

Tolerance, of course.

It does go by other names: nonjudgmentalism, openness, diversity, anti-racism, etc. But whatever it’s called, the supreme virtue of the modern age is not to believe. Continue reading

Socrates, Techno-Speak, and Similar Issues

I have some new or newish pieces up on the current regime and how to fight it. There’s one just out at Crisis Magazine about how bad ideological pluralism is (for starters, it’s a particular system of social control that obviously can’t be pluralistic). There are also a couple at Catholic World Report about why the Church can’t use modern public language to speak to modern man (it’s a sort of technological Newspeak), and about Socratic questioning as a way to disrupt the flow of sophistical patter. And then there’s a piece published at Crisis Magazine during Lent about how to how to be a bit more Lenten if you happen to be a political ranter.

You need to be a Traditionalist Conservative

Introduction for the Orthosphere

I’ve been trying to perfect our basic recruitment poster. On the one hand, it’s hopelessly gauche to tell people that they ought to believe water is wet and pain hurts. On the other hand, the Rulers of the Modern World tell everybody that water is dry and that pain feels good, so somebody has to make a sales pitch for truth.

The other basic problem is that the Rulers lie about almost everything important, so it is tedious actually to correct all their lies. To keep the appeal brief enough to be appealing, I must speak in generalities.

Regular readers know that I tend to be verbose, especially on this subject. This post contains fewer than two thousand words, including these.

You need to be a Traditionalist Conservative

The modern world, the world in which you and I live, doesn’t work. It’s fundamentally broken.

To be sure, there is also much good in the world. Enough good that the world’s brokenness is often masked. But we cannot just ignore the bad. Indeed, the good serves to highlight the bad, and to serve as a hint of how we can oppose the bad.

You can sense the fundamental disorder of the world even if you cannot say in words just what is wrong. This is especially true if, like me, you are old enough to know how the world used to be ordered. Our ancestors lived under much better social orders, even though there has always been much wrong with mankind. In recent decades, though, Western Civilization has begun to unravel in a fundamental way not seen at least since the fall of the Roman Empire, and in many ways the unravelling is unprecedented. This unravelling is largely self-caused, as modern man has deliberately chosen to reject truth, goodness and beauty. Continue reading

Joseph Shaw on the Eich affair

If you hadn’t heard, Brendan Eich, CEO of Mozilla, resigned after an uproar about a modest donation he made in support of an anti-gay marriage referendum (which passed!) six years ago in California. The ostensibly-right-wing response to this was as anemic and ineffective as it is to everything else; they objected that liberals were behaving illiberally, exhibiting intolerance, silencing free speech, etc. Libertarian useful idiot Nick Gillespie went so far as to generously qualify his “ambivalent” feelings about Eich’s resignation by adding that it was a clear case of the market responding to consumer signals (presumably he is either ignorant or lying about the fact that these “signals” are deliberately coordinated by the government).

Now, non-liberals accusing liberals of illiberalism for demanding the resignation of a “homophobe” strikes me as being rather like atheists berating Christians for being “un-Christian” on account of their not hugging half-naked gay men in public with sufficient enthusiasm. It’s worse than incorrect, it’s hubristic for the average non-liberal (which, yes, excludes present company) to imagine that he somehow intuits the demands of liberalism better than those who are psychologically and socially conformed to it. Most of them aren’t exactly free thinkers: if liberalism demanded differently of them, they’d do differently. But it doesn’t, so they don’t.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen, instead, to Joseph Shaw, who chimes in with an excellent four-part series (one, two, three, and four) on the futility of non-liberals trying to restrain leftist excesses while operating within the leftist consensus — a futility which arises from the non-liberals’ own failure to fully comprehend the monster they’re dealing with. He also has some useful conclusions: namely, quit acting as if liberalism is the only intellectual game in town.

Go check it out.

Important Essay by Eric L. Gans

In the latest of his ongoing Chronicles of Love and Resentment at the Anthropoetics website, Eric L. Gans discusses the evolution of resentment since the Middle Ages and shows the relation of a debased type of resentment to the reigning victimocracy. Gans argues that only a revival of the concept of sin can deliver us from the galloping totalitarianism of the victim-mentality. I strongly recommend the essay to Orthosphereans.  The link is here: http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/views/vw457.htm

Paul Gottfried on the Contemporary Academy

Over at the website of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, the redoubtable Paul Gottfried provides commentary on the squishy totalitarianism of the contemporary academy and on the bland and careerist mentality that sustains it.  Gottfried writes:

As a student, I noticed that most of my teachers were immersed in books and ideas. They were genuinely in love with their disciplines and would spend their evenings and vacations pursuing their studies full-time. In college I majored with one professor who was a multilingual scholar in intellectual history. One of his books, which my mentor was too modest to discuss, was a study of the effects of Impressionist art on the prose style of Marcel Proust.

By contrast:

Some professors [today] strike me as men or women simply holding down ‘jobs’ without a deep commitment to learning as practice (in the Aristotelian sense). Others seemed to be not quite fully grown-up adults burdened with personal and emotional issues—people who didn’t fit into a bourgeois moral world and who were looking for an environment that they could mold to their proclivities.

Paul’s article is well worth reading.

There’s No Such Thing as Women

Retortion is a beautiful thing.

A correspondent of our fellow orthospherean blogger and valued commenter Joseph of Arimathea has noticed that if latter-day feminism is correct in its assertion that sex is nothing but a social construct, like language – this being why feminists like to call it by the linguistic term, “gender,” rather than the proper biological term, “sex” – then *the female sex does not actually exist.* All appearances to the contrary, there is no such thing, really, as a female.

Continue reading

H. G. Wells and Education: How Students Respond to Big Ideas

Wells 02

Posterity remembers Herbert George Wells (1866 – 1946) primarily as a novelist.  He came into public acclaim around the turn of the century on the basis of his “scientific romances” such as The War of the Worlds (1897), The First Men in the Moon (1901), and The War in the Air (1906), but he soon turned his attention to the social novel, demonstrating a talent similar to that of Charles Dickens in Kipps (1905), Tono-Bungay (1906), and The Undying Fire (1919).  Wells was one of the original public intellectuals of the mediated age, his voice familiar to listeners of the BBC, his visage familiar from newsreels.  He believed in the social efficacy of science and technology, called himself a socialist, adding that his vision of socialism was so far ahead of Marxism and Leninism that compared to him their adherents were living in the Stone Age.  In the monumental Experiment in Autobiography (1934), perhaps surprisingly, Wells tends to characterize almost all his activities under the heading of education – and he makes it clear that he thought of himself, no matter to what he put his hand, as above all an educator.  He wrote any number of explicitly pedagogical books.  The Outline of History (1919), A Short History of the World (1923), and The Work, Health, and Happiness of Mankind (1932) come to mind, the first two still useful today.  Wells’s first idea of a career, in his early twenties, was a school mastership.  He persevered through normal training and migrated through a number of appointments until the poverty of it irked him and he turned to writing.

Continue reading

Repost: What to Say to the Leftist Gestapo

[Continuing my occasional series of reposts of articles published at the old Intellectual Conservative, which fell victim to evil leftist hackers.]

*

Western Civilization is under the rule of the Left, and persons formally accused of “intolerance” (impiety towards liberalism) face serious persecution if convicted. Indeed, even the accusation can bring significant hardship. What can we do to defend ourselves against the Leftist Gestapo?

By way of illustration, consider the following scenario:

Liberal Commissar (LC) We have a complaint from a person who shall remain anonymous that, in his or her presence, you said things intolerant of [insert one of the following: homosexuals, “undocumented” persons, nonwhites, women, non-Christians, et al.]

Non-Liberal Person  (NLP) Did I?

LC: You must take these proceedings seriously!  It is alleged that you said [insert nonliberal, “intolerant” expression.]  Did you say that?

NLP: I may have said something like that. Continue reading