Technology Hands Nihilism a Gun

The prosperity engendered by high technology opens lots of economic room for nihilism, so we should not perhaps be too surprised to see it blossoming these days. But latter-day reproductive technology also makes it possible for nihilism to follow through in reproduction on its moral commitment to death. I.e., it enables nihilism to delete itself from the population. Never before has nihilism had this power to enact its own ultimate conclusions in concrete acts. Until recently, even most nihilists who ended up killing themselves also reproduced themselves in the meantime, willy nilly.

Mutatis mutandis, then, the population of nihilists should be set to crash, just as that of the Shakers crashed.

There is No Patrimony

There is no patrimony, and hasn’t been for generations. We’ve been making it up as we go for the last 250 years or so, each of us cobbling together on his own the lineaments of a coherent way of life from the jetsam that is the only remnant of what was once the ship that bore our forefathers up together from infancy, piloted by their fathers and kept by their mothers.

That ship is gone, wrecked, taken apart piece by piece and thrown into the sea by improvident sailors, unofficered, free, and drunk.

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Hope

One of the many reasons I posted so little here at the Orthosphere over the summer was that in the months leading up to the family vacation that began in mid-June I had been feeling more and more discouraged about the culture wars, and thus enervated. The handwriting was on the wall, the Persians at the gates of the City; and other watchmen on the web were doing a great job. What could I add, really, to the fight, especially given that it seemed foredoomed to go against us?

Sure, I was busier than at any time in recent memory with family and business affairs. But such business had not kept me from writing in many decades.

In retrospect, I just needed that vacation. I was tired. I know this because only a few days into the vacation I began to feel hope again.

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No Flood Needed This Time Around

Birth rates are plummeting globally, so that even in countries where fertility is above replacement, it soon won’t be. In 150 years or so, the only people around will be religious conservatives, because other sorts of people with looser morals aren’t reproducing (thanks to the Pill, and all its knock-on social and economic effects, noticed in this video).

We have to step back and realize that what is happening to man right now is a pervasive and radical winnowing, comparable almost to the Flood. It’s natural selection at work, weeding out liberalism from the gene pool, and via co-evolution from the meme pool.  Put another way, liberalism is a lethal intellectual mutation. Whether it takes 50 years, or 1,000, liberalism is doomed, because it is at war with reality. Not only is it not nice to fool Mother Nature, it can never, ever be done in the first place. The Logos of the world is not mocked, no matter how amusing our petty pranks at his expense seem to us.

Fortunately for those who are deleting their own ilk from the world’s future, this winnowing may not involve catastrophic war, plague, or economic collapse. The autophagy of liberalism need not destroy civilization in the process. Civilization, even the West, might just squeak through and prevail in the end, preserving some of the best bits of what it has so far achieved. We might get through this winnowing with very little pain and suffering: no mass death, just a series of successively smaller, successively more traditional generations, as liberals die off after long, entertaining, meaningless lives.

Of Possible Interest

I have an article at the website of the Pope Center for Higher Education on the difficulty of teaching a course on literary criticism in the prevailing post-literate condition. The link is here: http://www.popecenter.org/commentaries/article.html?id=3019. I have another article, or rather the first part of a two-part article, on S. T. Coleridge as a Traditionalist, at Angel Millar’s People of Shambhala website. The link is here: http://peopleofshambhala.com/a-vision-in-a-dream-s-t-coleridge-on-imagination-and-politics/. My review of James Kalb’s Against Inclusiveness, for The University Bookman, is here: http://www.kirkcenter.org/index.php/bookman/article/todays-totalitarians/.

PS. The Pope Center article is a version of an item that I first posted here at The Orthosphere a couple of months ago.

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.

Freedom and Tolerance

Zipppy and Franklin have been having it out in the discussion thread here.

Representative quote from Franklin:

 Zippy, I support your right to live without freedom if that is what you prefer. I support the right of people to live under whatever kind of culture they want. If you want a king, fine. If you want communism, fine. Just don’t impose your culture on me. The real difference between traditionalism and liberalism is that there are many different traditions and real traditionalism recognizes this and respects the rights of people to organize themselves around their own traditions.

 

Representative quote from Zippy:

It isn’t just my theoretical understanding of liberalism that makes “live and let live” classical liberalism (which you oddly label “traditionalism”) seem utopian and counterfactual. The actual track record of liberalism in the real world suggests otherwise too.

My response:

The modern condition is uncanny, and therefore accurate comparisons with the past can be difficult to make. In the past, man was less free in many ways, and more free in many ways. The modern man is—with certain glaring exceptions noted—more free in the non-physical realm, where he can generally choose his own epistemology, his own ethics and even his own metaphysics without lifting any eyebrows, but he cannot choose to install incandescent lightbulbs, to develop his land, or to hire whomever he wants. And, most importantly, he is not free to live well on account of living in a properly-ordered society.

Liberalism offers freedom, and it delivers a lot of it, but it fails to deliver what man needs most: order.

I side more with Zippy than with Franklin. A great nation needs a great purpose, not just a “live and let live” spirit. Moreover, tradition is to be valued because it connects us with truth, not just because it is our way.

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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.

Gene / Culture Devolution

Culture – memetic variation and selection – is the medium of Lamarckian evolution. Culture is the way that humans pass along acquired characteristics – learned ideas – to their fellows and heirs. And ideas have consequences. Our ideas shape how we live, and thus where, when, and how long we live, how many children we have and how we raise them, or not, how we coordinate our activities, and so forth. The structure of social coordination evolves.

As factors of prosperity and reproductive success, ideas have genetic consequences. And those genetic consequences feed back into the selection of cultural memes.

So there is coevolution of genes and culture. Men prosper in cultures to which they are physiologically well fitted, and cultures prosper among men who are physiologically equipped to enact their memes. Their physiological equipment includes the structure and organization of their nervous systems.

Men and women of a given thede, then, are likely to be better adapted physiologically to the cultural forms historically predominant in that thede. This is why Swedes do better than the Ik at Social Democracy.

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