If you haven’t heard, Russell Shaw has recently published a book, American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America, describing the remarkable collapse of Catholic identity in America over the last 50 years. I haven’t read the book yet (it’s on my list), but there’s a fascinating interview with Shaw at The Catholic World Report touching on many of the themes in his book.
A guest post by Dalrock.
Alan Roebuck recently asked Can Man Live Traditionally?
Alan answered yes, and went so far as to argue that a man has an obligation to marry even though this means marrying in a legal and social regime which has done all it can to eradicate traditional marriage, and even if this means marrying a woman who wouldn’t have been considered appropriate to marry by tradition minded men of past generations.
As a member of what I have dubbed the traditional marriage group within the manosphere, I asked Alan if he would be interested in me providing a response as a guest post. Alan very graciously accepted. I suggested this because while I differ in some important aspects with Alan’s position on the topic, I was impressed with his willingness to go against the grain of our thoroughly feminised culture and acknowledge the unpopular truths regarding what our society has transformed marriage into. While I think it is unlikely that opinions will be changed on either side, my hope with this exchange is that each of us will better understand the positions of the other. Continue reading
The post on amending our social order by enclosing the commons generated by the universal franchise provoked an animated discussion, not just at the Orthosphere but in the comments thread of a post devoted to the proposal over at Nick Steve’s site, The Reactivity Place. I also had some interesting email exchanges with Orthosphere readers on the proposal. Out of these various threads, there are four topics that I think merit further discussion.
In a previous post, I asked:
… what if the current positive feedback circuit [now operative in our politics] could be re-wired so that it was a negative feedback circuit, like that of the steam engine and its governor? What if the penalties for vicious and imprudent political decisions were immediate and severe, while the rewards for virtuous, prudent political decisions were both explicit and compelling?
This in reference to the pervasive moral corruption of our lawgivers, and by extension of everyone involved in politics; for:
As things now stand, the people charged with the reformation of society – chiefly our legislators, but by extension everyone who participates in politics, from executives and bureaucrats to lobbyists and electors, both the regulators and the regulated, and especially the media – are rewarded for increasing the noise of our social system. Where there is a problem, especially of the sort caused by the brakes they have already installed, they are encouraged to apply further brakes to the brakes, and brakes to the brakes to the brakes, and so on ad infinitum. This is why our code of laws has metastasized, so that laws proliferate without let or hindrance, and so that they more and more pervade every aspect of our lives, no matter how humble.
And this is due to the fact that:
… the basic feedback circuit of a democracy characterized by universal suffrage is positive, a vicious cycle: the electorate is strongly motivated to vote themselves more benefits and lower taxes, more liberty to act out with fewer limits or constraints, or costs, for doing so. The more people see they can get from the state, the more they vote to get from the state. Nothing signals to them that they are demanding too much, that they are eating cultural seed corn. In the circumstances, any other behavior on their part would be irrational. So the bankruptcy of the system – economic, moral, and intellectual – is hardwired in.
Something must be done, or we are headed for a systemic crash. Indeed, we may be headed for such a crash no matter what is done. If so, so be it; the instability of evil is the morality of the universe; let God arise.
But whether we are headed for a systemic crash or not, it behooves us nonetheless, as at any time, to do our best to stave it off. It behooves us always, as our plain duty, to do our best.
How might we arrange things so that the success or failure of policy fed back to the development thereof, so that the present vicious cycle of wickedness had at least a shot at a phase change into virtuosity?
The problem with TradCons is that it [sic] proposes men behave according to traditional behaviours while the underlying rules that supported that behavior doesn’t [sic] exist.
- A commenter at Oz Conservative
-An individual calling himself “Pro-male/Anti-feminist Tech,” at his blog
It is said by many (not just the individuals quoted above) that since the traditional rules of traditional society have been overthrown, a person cannot live traditionally without incurring a severe penalty.
In response, we traditionalists say that indeed, man must always make some accommodations to his environment. But to be properly virtuous, a man or woman must not live just for himself. He must also live a life that contributes to his family, his people, his religion, and his nation. And this can only be done by living, to a greater or lesser extent, traditionally.
The topic is large, and this post will only respond directly to one of its manifestations: It is said by some in the Manosphere that we traditionalist conservatives are betraying men by urging them to act according to traditional rules of chivalry towards women, with the result that women have the advantage over men. In brief, they say we traditionalists urge men to submit to women. Continue reading
In reaction to my post “Say No to Same-Sex Pseudo-Marriage,” commenter “The Man Who Was…” objects to our claim that homosexuality is largely caused by one’s upbringing. He says no evidence exists for this claim.
The truth is rather different. That homosexuality is largely due to the environment in which one is raised is very nearly true by definition, and is therefore not subject to either proof or disproof by empirical means. If The Man Who Was… objects that “studies” don’t prove that homosexuality is induced by a disordered environment, he’s probably failing to notice that “studies” also don’t disprove it. Continue reading
From the popular, influential, and usually-right-on-the-money conservative Protestant blog “Pyromaniacs” comes a post that illustrates an important gap in understanding. The post is correct and important, but something is missing.
Here are some quotes:
One of the greatest dangers of the political activism of the so-called “religious right” is this: It fosters a tendency to make enemies out of people who are supposed to be our mission-field, even while we’re forming political alliances with Pharisees and false teachers.
To hear some Christians today talk, you might think that rampant sins like homosexuality and abortion in America could be solved by legislation. A hundred years ago, the pet issue was prohibition, and mainstream evangelicalism embraced the notion that outlawing liquor would solve the problem of drunkenness forever in America. It was a waste of time and energy, and it was an unhealthy diversion for evangelicals and fundamentalists during an era when the truth was under siege within the church. Lobbying for laws to change the behavior of worldly people was the last project evangelicals needed to make their prime mission in the early 20th century. Just like today. Remember Galatians 2:21: “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” And Galatians 3:21: “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” Continue reading
A guest post by commenter Bill:
Over the last century or so and especially over the last fifty years, Western elites have adopted a number of bizarre positions. These positions are held not because any evidence suggests them to be true, but, evidently, for reasons emotional, ideological, and self-interested. This, by itself, is not especially comment-worthy: people are like that.
They also, however, adhere with similar intensity to older positions: to modern philosophy, to a kind of Whiggish history, and to the machine—to the Mechanical Philosophy and the scientific program it lionizes. To themselves they are hard-headed, empirical rationalists; guardians, seekers, and producers of truth. Naturally enough, rationalists, realists, and truth-tellers deserve to be high, while spiritualists, super-naturalists, and fantasists deserve to be low. The Logos must rule.
Tensions arise when the new beliefs come into conflict with truths produced by the machine, to which they are committed by the old beliefs. The tensions are not merely internal to the heads of Liberals, either. These two belief-sets are not equally strong in all Liberals, some of them lean heavily towards the machine and some of them lean heavily towards progressivism. Since progressivism is increasingly ascendant, the machinists retreat. One way they retreat, reminiscent of the way their predecessors the alchemists retreated before them, is into esoterica. That is they retreat into producing texts whose exoteric, open meaning is false and progressive but whose esoteric, hidden meaning is true and anti-progressive.
The most accessible example of this is race denial. The renowned Stanford geneticist (and cowardly machinist), Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, in the introduction to and again in chapter 1 of his 2001 book, Genes, Peoples, and Languages says explicitly and in almost these words that human “racial” differences are unimportant and are only skin deep. The remainder of the book is a detailed refutation of these claims, which refutation, however, never notices itself as such. By two pages from the denial in chapter 1, you know that race is at least blood deep. By the end, you know it is bone deep, gene deep. Exoterically, he never admits that race exists, that it is biological, or that it is important. Esoterically, the book is almost about showing the truth of these things. Cavalli-Sforza is famous enough that his behavior has provoked learned commentary. There is a fine series of blog posts on this by the anthropologist Peter Frost beginning here, continuing here and culminating in an informative seven part series (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven).
A funny example of this came to my attention the other day over at West Hunter, the blog of the physicist-turned-anthropologist Gregory Cochran. In the linked post, Cochran talks about the work of Dan Freedman with newborns. As it turns out, newborn babies display some of the stereotypical behavior of their respective races. Newborns display large differences in their willingness to accept externally imposed discomfort. Babies rank, from most to least accepting: Navaho, Chinese, Japanese, White, Black. As it turns out, you can buy a DVD of data from the experiment, a DVD entitled Cross-Cultural Differences in Newborn Behavior. Look at the word between “cross” and “differences.”
A guest post by commenter Bill:
Perhaps Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Sketch is their most iconic work. A customer brings a dead parrot back to the store from which it was bought, claiming that it was dead upon purchase. The clerk/owner responds, persistently, that the parrot is not dead. Hilarity ensues.
There is something compelling about watching parrot mongers at work: asserting the sky’s pinkness, insinuating the evil of pink-sky-deniers, frothing and threatening. It’s not just for comedy sketches. Parrot-mongers are rife. Get the parents of an ugly, stupid, clumsy, and nasty child talking. Ask, in the Art History Department, about the value of a BFA. Ask an investment banker about the value of “financial innovation.”
Parrot-mongers look foolish. Somehow, they know they look foolish. Thus, they must have a reason for their parrot-mongering. Often, as in the examples above, it is soothing their pride or resolving the dissonance between what is actually true and which truth would be in their interest. While this is not benign, one sympathizes.
When this straightforward explanation is lacking, though, what is going on? Behind the Iron Curtain, the populace generally sold parrots for the Communist elite. As Havel, Solzhenitsyn and others explain, one sold the regime’s parrots, at one level, to avoid punishment and, at another, to reassure the elite that they remained in power. Still, though, this was about interest—the regime’s interest in resolving the conflict between the elite’s mismanagement of the country and, well, their desire to remain the elite. Furthermore, it remains very easy to see the connection between the lies, the people telling the lies, the elite mandating the lies, and the elite’s interest motivating the lies.
Putting the Communists to shame, the US is overrun with parrot mongers. But, in our case, the connection back to the interest of the elite motivating this is much less apparent. Whose interests are served by the race denial parrot? By the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming parrot? By the war between religion and science parrot? By the blank slate and gender equality parrots?
Commenters on the right, whether secular or religious and whether neo or paleo, have tended to take as our task refutation of the parrot-mongers. We have decided to be John Cleese. While this has value, pace the Asch conformity experiment, it seems overdone. It seems as if we, like John Cleese as consumer or like Charlie Brown as placekicker, are taking our tormenters at their word where their word is clearly not good.
If treating the parrot-mongers as honestly deluded is mistaken, then treating them as dishonestly interested in fooling us is better. But, then, what’s their program? Cui bono? And what is the right countermove?
Why another essay about liberalism? Because the common man needs to be equipped to defend himself.
And speaking of the common man, for whom is this nine-thousand-word essay written? For the man who understands some things about the ubiquitous liberalism but has not yet been properly schooled.
The intended reader, then, is intelligent, perceptive and fairly knowledgeable of the general ways of the world and therefore naturally senses that there is something wrong with the status quo. The intended reader knows the basic liberal rules of society and knows that they are held to be obviously true and good, but he has enough knowledge to sense that these rules are wrong. So he does not need to be convinced about the basic nature of liberalism; this essay assumes that the reader can recognize liberalism from a general description of it.
But the intended reader, ready to learn and also knowing that he needs to learn, has not yet discovered how properly to think about liberalism. This essay (a major expansion of my “Liberalism 101”) presents an introduction to proper thinking about liberalism. It also introduces the reader to the antidote for the poison of liberalism.
The Essay Itself
Something is fundamentally wrong with the modern world. If you sense this, you have taken a great step toward wisdom. But what exactly is wrong?
There are many specific troubles, too many to count. But let us consider some examples.
Observe first that not only is there great trouble in our times but, even more alarmingly, the authorities often approve of (and are often the main source of) the trouble, such as:
Legitimization, even celebration, of sexual disorder. Since disorder is bad, why do they celebrate? Continue reading