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In the Shadow of Leftward Movement

This blog is on record as not caring much about The Gay Problem. Of all the identity groups in the West, gays are the least problematic. A decent number seem to be natural aristocrats and right-wingers, but even if all of them were virulent leftists, they make up a tiny percentage of the population. And, honestly, what’s the worst they’re gonna do? Have a few gay weddings, prance around in chaps in a few parades, and gentrify a few ghettos? Two things they won’t be doing any time soon are setting off bombs and lowering home values.

Nevertheless, there’s a lesson about the ever-leftward zeitgeist one can learn from the recent pizza and bakery scandals: it happens in the blink of an eye.

A few months ago, to be in good standing with the Left, one needed only to agree that gays should have the full right to marry and that no state should bar them from marriage.

Today, to be in good standing with the Left, one needs to agree that all private businesses must get involved with gay weddings if called upon to do so, upon pain of mob outrage and state-levied fines.

In the blink of an eye—a couple incidents in Nowheresville—the goalposts of respectable opinion have been shifted a little further to the left. The articles of leftist faith have been expanded, and ipso facto, the realm of opinion designated “right-wing” has been expanded, as well.

Today, you can agree that gays should have full right to marry one another, but if you do not also agree that private businesses must be forced to get involved with gay weddings regardless of the owners’ religious scruples, you now have a conservative opinion. The culture has moved leftward, and if you have not moved with it, you are stuck in the reactionary shadow of that movement.

The Gay Problem demonstrates just how swiftly a society can approach a Left Singularity. Even a few years ago, the suggestion that religious people should be forced to get involved with gay weddings against their beliefs was not being floated anywhere in the media and not many places online. But all of a sudden it is an opinion that you must share if you are not to be labeled conservative by the elite progressive class.

In another year, the culture will find it odd that private business owners used to get away with refusing to involve themselves with gay weddings. How terrible! Were we that backward, once? And, of course, the culture will not have reasoned itself to this conclusion. It is pure sentiment. To some extent, it is a manufactured sentiment, but the whole Comskyan notion of “manufactured consent” is far too leftist for my tastes. The reality is that human animals are always very happy to attach their sentiment to ideals and rituals. As soon as their body chemistry has developed an emotional tolerance to a certain ideal or ritual, they will move quickly to find a new one. Perhaps leftward movement is just the consequence of a people bent on chasing its emotional high.

Intersectionality

This thread at Sailer’s has produced some insights, among which is the following comment:

The definition of chutzpah is someone who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he is an orphan.

What do you call it when white people import millions of blacks in chains from Africa and then complain that America has too much diversity? On the eve of the Civil War, the population of South Carolina was 58% black. Was that too much salt in the soup and if so, who dumped all that salt in there? America lost its moral standing to exist as a whitopia a long time ago and like virginity, you can’t get it back.

An excellent point. Unlike the more recently arrived Italians, Greeks, and Irish, black Africans were here in America from her very beginning. Part of the founding stock. Only a few hundred thousand blacks were ever imported into America, of course, but that number quickly grew into a “native” African American population. Surely this population has as much a claim on the nation as the relatives of Thomas Jefferson? Isn’t it our national duty to continue working until there is parity between them and White America, whatever HBD issues may stand in the way?

~~~

I don’t bring this up as a challenge so much as an opportunity to discuss the totalizing Intersectional Left—not to be confused with the totalitarian Left. Let me explain:

In my most self-critical moments, I find myself agreeing (to an extent) with the critiques of white privilege and black oppression in America. Blacks contributed hard labor to a segment of this country and yet the country was never set up for their benefit. Obviously not! They were slaves. Even if their numbers were large in the south, across America as a whole, they never constituted more than 10-12% of the population. A minority population cannot expect a society to embody its interests and culture. However, at the very least, it can expect to gain some financial reward through its contribution to the larger society. Economically speaking, then, there is a legitimate Black American Grievance because across 200+ years of social contributions (in the form of menial labor), they never saw a financial reward in return.

Now, I would argue, as would most of you, that White America has long since paid that debt in the form of 300,000+ Union war dead, multiple Constitutional amendments, billions spent on civil rights legislation and enforcement, billions more spent on welfare programs. But insofar as these haven’t worked, and insofar as the nation will never accept HBD, I can at times admit that, when talking about Black America, the critical race theorists and social justice warriors have a point and we may as well join hands to try and lift up our black American brothers . . . after all, and as I said, they were here from the beginning, as much a part of America as the Daughters of the American Revolution. There is a certain loyalty that we should admit and act upon.

All this is to say that I can stomach and, for the sake of argument, even agree with certain Leftist points about race and class in the context of Black America. If I imagine that every Leftist/SJW argument were made in the context of Black America—designed to analyze only the plight of black Americans—then I find myself at peace, even in agreement, because I see no reason why we shouldn’t take blacks on as a continuing project, for their betterment, and for ours. They were our slave population, we freed them, now let’s continue the work of integrating them.

~~~

The problem of course is that contemporary Leftist arguments are not made only in the context of Black America. The problem is that the Left’s goals are not only to ameliorate the plight of black Americans. The problem is that Leftism is totalizing. It is not about the plight of a specific former slave population but about the imagined plight of everyone who is not a white, heterosexual, cisgendered male. Today, the Left has taken the discourse of oppression (which, again, has a legitimacy and a power when used in the context of Black America) and applied it willy-nilly to every recently arrived immigrant group, to every sexual identity group, to every human without a penis, to everyone who is not a white, heterosexual, cisgendered male . . . that is to say, the Left has applied the discourse of oppression to well nigh 90% of the planet’s population.

This intersectional move would be legitimate if, indeed, 90% of the planet’s population were oppressed by the other 10%, that is, by the white, heterosexual, cisgendered males. If white males met in synod every month to discuss how to rape, to kill, to thieve, and to generally repress the masses, then by all means, applying the discourse of oppression to everyone who is not a white male would make a lot of sense.

If you don’t buy this conspiracy theory, however, then one can only wonder at the underlying motives behind intersectionality. One can only wonder why the Left wants to apply a very specific discourse about a very specific former slave population to Hondurans who just came to America last week. One can only wonder why the Left wants to apply discourse about a former slave population to men who like to dress up in women’s clothes.

Why does the Left totalize its critique in this way?

Power and influence, of course.

To an extent, the discourse of oppression—the Left critique in the context of Black America—has worked for Black America. They got their freedom; they got their civil rights; they get their welfare programs, their EEO law, their constant outpouring of affection from guilty whites. It is no surprise, then, that other groups have decided to latch onto this discourse, to appropriate this critique, in the hopes that they, too, can get some of that power and influence . . . and state money.

~~~

If I think blacks have a right to all the welfare and affirmative action in the world, but I don’t think recently arrived Hondurans have the same right . . . . I am not a Leftist.

If I think blacks have a right to all the welfare and affirmative action in the world, but I don’t think homosexuals or transgendered people have the same right . . . I am not a Leftist.

If I think blacks have a right to all the welfare and affirmative action in the world, but I don’t think women have that same right . . . I am not a Leftist.

In short, if I am not intersectional, I am not a Leftist. Certain economically-minded liberals have lately learned this out the hard way.

~~~

Intersectionality, I think, will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The contemporary “Left” is a coalition of utopians who think the entire planet can (and should! and has a right to!) live in post-scarcity luxury and middle-class harmony. But underneath this utopian surface are the divisions and fissures we should expect in a human collective. Intersectionality highlights these divisions. It exacerbates the differences. It forces people to declare their true motives and loyalties. Blacks or women, who’s it gonna be? Women or trannies, who’s it gonna be? Trannies or Muslims, who’s it gonna be? Muslims or Hindus, who’s it gonna be?

Put another way, intersectionality foregrounds the absurdity of the Leftist utopian project itself. For that reason, I celebrate it and welcome it, and would like some more of it, please. Once the factions have devoured one another, maybe we Americans can get back to the business of trying to help out the poor urban blacks as best we can . . .

Intersectionality

Intersectionality

Apocalypse Delayed

A problem distilled by admin:

“Extend-and-pretend” — or radically finite reality denial — is an engine of catastrophe. It enables negative consequences to be accumulated through postponement . . .

Yet the accumulation is a slow one, so perhaps there is no reason to expect a singular catastrophe recognizable as such. We’re not talking about volcanoes and meteorites but large-scale economic, social, and political phenomena. In the context of such phenomena, catastrophe, in Eliot’s words, may be a slow whimper until we run out of breath rather than a cataclysmic bang with an instantaneous reckoning.

Catastrophe—finally hitting the wall of reality—may in the end be local, diffuse, an ongoing yet controllable thing. The politics of the last decade might be read not as “extend and pretend” but as “scatter the negative consequences.” Shifting the metaphor, we should not ask “When does the pressure finally explode?” but “How do governments (and their functionaries) release steam at the margins?” Of course, we can also ask, “Where does the steam escape on its own, regardless of planned release?” The Cathedral is not stupid; perhaps it doesn’t let negative consequences accumulate so much as cook the books, fudge the ledgers, and move money between accounts (shifting metaphors again). State and federal policy as an endless series of maneuvers designed to keep the Good Ship Society afloat indefinitely, water flooding in through a thousand small holes but pumped out again through a thousand more poked by the shipbuilders.

Catastrophe is thus framed as a local event. Lehman Brothers goes bankrupt, the Fed prints more money. Another Detroit neighborhood loses electric power, another D.C. neighborhood gentrifies thanks to federal salaries. Or, in the social realm, a white Bosnian is killed in Ferguson, but now black Africans are “Christian terrorists.”

None of this is to say that a game of “scatter the negative consequences” can go on indefinitely, despite what its planners might think, anymore than a game of “extend and pretend” can go on indefinitely. But it is to say that the endgame exists, by design, on a much longer time scale than any of us realize.

Future Gnon Lulz

Funny future scenario:

Sometime near the year 2114. Third world immigration has flooded first world city centers across North America and Europe. Some cities are 70+% NAM. The welfare state’s tipping point has finally been reached; austerity policies are beginning to roll back welfare programs at unprecedented rates to avoid state and federal insolvency. Widespread protests. Greece on a massive scale. At the same time, global warming has finally happened, and coastal cities are beginning to lose neighborhoods. Not a big deal for the rich whites and East Asians, but not all coastal cities are Malibu. Every month, more and more poor NAMs find themselves untethered and homeless, both within first world countries but, more devastatingly, in third world shitholes.

Those NAMs who have found themselves ensconced (though not assimilated) in Western countries start getting panicked phone calls from their cousins and uncles and grandmothers. “We coming to you for staying. No more home here. Just water.”

Now, these Western NAM immigrants—fourth, fifth generation—aren’t stupid. They know that austerity is on the horizon. If they want to stop those welfare rollbacks, the worst thing that could happen is a massive influx of more people putting themselves on the government payrolls. This is not ten thousand here or ten thousand there. We’re talking millions of displaced persons flooding into barely-solvent jurisdictions every month. The local immigrants know this great movement of peoples is the final nail on the coffin of their state handouts and privileges. Each family accepts a few of their own personal relatives moving in but vehemently opposes more distant relations or neighbors’ families jumping onto this already-sinking life raft.

Anti-refugee groups form, manned entirely by indigenous immigrant NAMs. Fourth generation welfare-addicted citizens protesting the daily arrival of flooded-out illiterate halal peddlers. A caramel-coated Tea Party is regenerated. The image of Caesar Chavez is evoked as the indigenous defenders of dying welfare programs take to the deserts to defend the borders of their Western golden geese.

As Stephen King once said: “It always comes round to the same place again.”

Free Speech

China has no interest in your free speech nonsense:

China’s state news agency, Xinhua, ran a commentary by its Paris bureau chief in which he said: “Unfettered and unprincipled satire, humiliation and free speech are not acceptable.”

A commentary posted on the Xinhua website also warns that we now live in “a reality that demands basic respect and prudence be exercised in mass communication so as to reduce inter-culture and inter-religion misunderstanding and distrust, which can easily be exploited by terrorists.”

Good governance and peaceful domestic relations are two things neoreactionaries are supposed to value. So what is the neoreactionary theory of free speech?

It seems to me like a binary choice, at least in terms of sound policy. Either a society embraces free speech for all (as a principle) or it rejects free speech for all. Either might work. In contrast, a speech policy based on positionality rather than principle is bound to create more resentment than one in which anyone is allowed to say anything without legal or fiscal consequence. Unfortunately, this is precisely the policy in the West: whether or not something “can be said” depends on the positions of the people speaking and of the people being spoken about. Chris Hedges and others have pointed this out. In most of Europe, it is perfectly legal to mock Mohammed but illegal to deny the Holocaust or to write Nazi tracts. I would not lose my academic job for writing about high IQs in East Asia, but I could very well lose it for writing about low IQs in Africa.

There can be no denying that the Chinese are partially right. If, as a matter of free speech, one group of people is allowed to mock and humiliate another group of people, domestic relations are assured to be turbulent, perhaps even violent. If, on the other hand, no one is allowed to mock or humiliate anyone else, on pain of imprisonment, then people will keep their opinions behind closed doors and play nice in public, thereby ensuring general domestic tranquility.

Of course, any NRx theory of free speech must take into consideration the historical contingency of this Western, secular value. Expecting all non-Western immigrants to immediately and eagerly accept this value is an exercise in progressive retardation, and it is a lesson that, unfortunately, the French writers of Charlie Hebdo had to learn the hard way.

Volver, or Christianity and the Degenerative Ratchet

“Christianity is dead” is an extreme categorical statement with which one can quibble, but one cannot deny that Christianity has lost whatever power it once possessed to guide civilization. As a political force, it is non-existent. It is even less powerful than that ancient gathering of a few dissident Jews in Palestine. At least they had potential force.

Reactionaries who think they can “revive” the religion of their ancestors, who think they can “restore” their throne and altar, are forgetting the core neoreactionary insight: the degenerative ratchet. Once something embarks on leftward movement (as Christianity has done since, at least, the Reformation), there can be no stopping its leftward movement. One cannot go back along the same leftward path. The way out of the degenerative ratchet cannot be the way in.

Ultimately, those who use the language of  “return” or “regeneration” or “restoration” seek only one thing: to turn back the clock on Christianity. Back to the 1950s. Back to the 1850s. Back before that drunken German monk ruined everything. It doesn’t matter when. Volver. The idea is to move backward along the leftward path, to move rightward once again, to return, to go back to some point in the past before the leftward movement became so extreme. The idea is to get out the way we came in. Which is impossible. 

The only way to stop the leftward movement—the degenerative ratchet—of Christianity is  . . . catastrophe.

A degenerative ratchet can only progress, until it cannot go on, and it stops. What happens next is something else—it’s Outside. Moldbug calls it a reboot.  History can tell us to expect it, but not what we are to expect.

. . . This is why NRx is dark. The only way out of a degenerative ratchet is catastrophe.

Does the Bible itself not bear this out? God does not return His people peacefully to Eden. God reboots. God resets. Catastrophically. When He saw that all of mankind had fallen into utter degeneracy, he sent a world-destroying Flood, rebooted the earth, and began a completely new covenant with Noah. Whenever Israel misbehaves in the Bible, God scatters it. And what else is Jesus’ Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection but the complete turning-on-its-head of everything Israel had expected? What else is the Gospel but a complete reset of the “kingly” Messianic expectation? God does not return things to a golden age of the past. He lets things fester until He decides they can’t fester any longer, then He washes everything clean in a divine catastrophe.

There can be no “return” for Christianity. There can be no “restoration” of some imagined pagan past. The degenerative ratchet has done its work, and we can’t look behind us down that already-traveled road. Better to look forward to the generative catastrophe ahead.

A Monopoly on Violence

The tribal urban protests happening in American cities bring most forcefully to mind this simple question:

Who, if anyone, is to have a monopoly on violence?

—-

The Western provides the archetype:

A small town on the prairie, full of good, hardworking folk, is being terrorized by a roving band of horse and cattle thieves, or perhaps by a land baron forcing the community under threats of violence into selling their farms for well-below-market value. What are the good townspeople to do? They are not violent by nature, and even if one can find a few strong men to fight the good fight, everyone knows the dark truth: a defensive blow from their side would simply result in an even stronger blow from the cattle thieves or the land baron. Thus would be initiated an ever-escalating battle, with uncertain ends. Too much to lose.

In rides the Man With No Name. On horseback, six shooters at his side. He hails from nowhere and nothing. He takes up the cause of the townspeople. He rides out to confront the roving band of thieves or the land baron. Not only does he fight the enemy, he kills the enemy. He wins not only the one fight but all future fights, so that the town might live in peace even once he has gone.

And he must go. The Man With No Name must ride into the sunset. He cannot become part of the community he has saved; there is too much blood on his hands. He has saved the town through viciousness. He has saved it with bullets and with mortal wounds, the only way to save it, but luckily, The Man With No Name has saved the town not only from its physical threat but also from the moral threat of guilt. Thanks to the Man With No Name, the town did not have to summon its own monstrous viciousness to confront and defeat the monster. 

The Man With No Name is a sin-eater. He has a monopoly on the violence which is necessary to save the town, so that the town needn’t deal with the truth, that moral terror is necessary to combat moral terror.

One of the central questions confronting any society is how to deal with the threat of violent individuals or groups that exist within it. The answer has generally been to give the state or some other centralized power a complete monopoly on the violence necessary to ensure protection against internal threats to harmony. Generally speaking, this monopoly is to be Nameless, hailing from nowhere and nothing, which is why the horseman in the Western has No Name and why the executioner wears a mask when he beheads the criminal. The executioner, like the horseman, is a sin-eater. He combats terror with terror so that the community or the individuals victimized do not have to, that they might remain innocent.

The alternatives to monpolized violence slide quickly toward vigilantism or mob rule, scenarios in which any community or individual may be called upon to resort to violence in order to combat violence.

Neoreactionary law would be minimal, protecting negative rights. The only acts punishable in a neoreactionary society would be acts that materially harm or that intend to materially harm body or property.

What, then, does the neoreactionary society do with a Michael Brown, or even a Tamir Rice? (A neoreactionary society would not have bothered Eric Garner, because a neoreactionary society would not decree laws against the free trade of cigarettes.)

What does the neoreactionary society do with internal threats? It is not enough to answer “Exit” for every internal threat, for there is no escaping the problems of internal criminality and violence. We must address those internal threats. How do we address them?

Do we give some central power a monopoly on the violence necessary to combat internal violence?

Do we outsource the violence?

Do we distribute it?

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