Levels of Commitment to the Dark Enlightenment
It’s one thing to collect data about IQ across nations and races, or to describe the courtship practices of a remote African tribe. It’s another thing to use these data and descriptions to theorize about the heritability of IQ or the evolution of social behavior. And it’s quite another thing to extrapolate from these theories political policies about immigration, segregation, employment law, affirmative action, et cetera, et cetera.
On the road to reaction, one can stop at any point in this hierarchy of knowledge. One can believe IQ is heritable and still turn out a Marxist. Or, rather, one can believe that IQ is heritable but still believe other things that counter-act whatever reactionary opinions might have developed otherwise. Never underestimate the power of denial, the lasting effects of cognitive dissonance, or the moral obligations of social relationships.
Richard Weaver reminds us:
It is only the first step beyond philosophical naivete to realize that there are different orders of knowledge, or that not all knowledge is of the same kind of thing. First, there is the order of facts about existing physical entities. These constitute the simple data of science. Next come the statements which are statements about these facts; these are the propositions or theories of science. Next there come the statements about these statements. The propositions which these last statements express form a partial universe of discourse which is the body of philosophical opinion.
We should add that this third level includes statements of policy. We should also add that the three levels are not a strict hierarchy but that they connect and re-connect with one another in a constant loop. Even a collection of brute facts relies upon prior assumptions which are not themselves brute facts.
However, for the sake of illustration, we can treat them as discrete categories to better understand different Levels (or Commitments) of Neoreaction, as well as the different scales at which the Cathedral operates as a censor.
1. Collection of facts.
Demanding the freedom to collect facts about nature and humanity is, circa 2013 AD, a very basic form of reaction. It’s surprising, really, but the Cathedral does in fact censor at even this scale of knowledge. To bring up crime statistics (even without extrapolating higher orders of knowledge from them) can be a dangerous move in mainstream debates about racial issues; even video-taping these statistics in action can cause lesser Cathedral clerics to attempt censorship. Cultural anthropology, from what I understand, has largely abandoned the old model of pure description of tribal or non-Western cultures, having realized that simply describing the fact of, say, sati or African witchcraft might confirm stereotypes. So brute collection of certain facts is abandoned.
Some members of the broader Dark Enlightenment community—e.g., Steven Pinker—seem committed to resistance only at this first realm of knowledge. They resent that areas of research are deemed ‘off limits’ and thus resist academic conformity for the sake of free inquiry. But their reaction does not extend beyond this demand for freedom of inquiry. They are often careful—to a fault—about making theoretical statements regarding the facts.
2. Theories about the facts.
Napoleon Chagnon and Linda Gottfredson have both been ostracized by their respective communities because not only did they collect and report uncomfortable facts (on tribal life and IQ, respectively), but they also made statements about those collected facts: theories about kinship in ancient cultures in Chagnon’s case, and theories about IQ and employment in Gottfredson’s. Being willing not only to collect and consider facts about uncomfortable subjects but to theorize about what the facts might mean demonstrates a decent level of commitment to reactionary resistance. Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending are other examples of people operating at this level of knowledge.
Cathderal censorship is most explicit at this level. Being once removed from brute facts, the Cathedral can deploy ad hominem attacks, moral outrage, or strained sophistries about “the way the facts were collected” or “the way the facts have been misread” or “other evidence indicates something else (but don’t ask critical questions about this evidence, mind you).”
However, theorizing about uncomfortable facts does not mean moving into the final realm of knowledge—
3. Statements about the theories.
It takes true reactionary commitment not only to collect IQ data, not only to theorize that IQ is largely heritable, but to conclude that, say, because IQ is largely heritable, we should stop spending money on improving educational access for low-IQ populations and only allow high-IQ immigrant groups into the country (and kick out the low-IQ groups that have managed to get in).
While building the Network of Dark Enlightenment, I began to realize that one divide not often remarked upon is precisely this divide between the different levels of neoreactionary commitment, this divide between cautious empiricists merely devoted to free inquiry and balls-to-the wall ethno-nationalists willing to put the empiricists’ ideas to the political test.
If I were to draw a rough historical comparison, I would say that the difference I’m talking about is the difference between a Galileo, who simply wanted to prove that the Earth moves around the sun, and a Reformer who believed that the Earth’s movement around the sun was just one more reason why the Vatican needed to be usurped.
The ultimate argumentative stumbling block of the left is at level two. Their question is very simple, “What is the ‘factness’ of these facts. Are they durable and fundamental aspects of natural and human reality, or are they mere data or ‘instances’, malleable and alterable under different circumstances?” Are they causes or caused?
Any inconvenient data is deemed not a “fact” but a “result”. Of wickedness, evil, oppression, erroneous social constructions, and hate, naturally. All the ‘isms’ and ‘phobias’. As an unfalsifiable (as applied) intellectual defense against having to contend with uncomfortable evidence, it is nearly impervious to assault. Much effort is expended (and careers made) in the effective bolstering and propagation of this delusional dogma as a kind of combined observation-and-reasoning meta-fact, not even a “theory”, but the fundamental fact, the natural law, of the origin of social metrics that contradict social justice.
Indeed, as a ‘fact’, it is the sine qua non of social justice, the fact that one can make any measurements that demonstrate disparate impact is the compelling rationale for the whole program and agenda, because, were it not for the sin, we would not see these stains. Only a few collections of raw data need be suppressed; only the ones that can’t be easily spun in favor of arguing for more social justice!
These are the ones with social emotional valence and where arguments ‘explaining them away’ are least likely to be effectively persuasive and most likely to be counterproductive when recognized as bullshit. Trying to spin the Chechen bombers? Tough work. If a certain ethnicity is more likely to commit robbery or dealing in contraband, that is easily frame-able as resulting from ‘poverty’ and ‘the history of racist oppression’, etc.
If they are more likely to rape members of their own ethnicity, that … presents some difficulty; it is especially complicated due to the introduction of competitive victim identities. Indeed, which victimology trumps which, the whole shuffling hierarchy of the relative status of claims of group persecution, is an endlessly entertaining ridiculous spectacle for those well on the outside of the absurdity envelope.
April 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm
Re: your link. What the hell did I just read?
Re: your post. You’re absolutely right that the Left operates in a most sophistic and slippery manner at the Second Level of Knowledge. At this level, the Left can pretend to operate “factually” while not, as you imply, actually dealing with brute facts–or they can conveniently pick and choose the facts they want to deal with and ignore the rest.
And I think your first and second paragraphs are getting at something interesting: that the Cathderal (especially its academic wing) essentially takes brute facts (say, average IQ scores) and incorporates them seamlessly into the Theoretical level of knowledge, so that they can deal with the facts in terms of convenient theories–theories about Oppression and Privilege and Lack of Access, or whatever.
I’ve experienced this first hand. A feminist colleague was saying, in High Theory mode, that “women in sports are always sexualized in their media representations; they are not represented AS sportswomen because of patriarchy yada yada yada.” I typed two words into Google image search–women’s basketball–and it returned hundreds of photos from dozens of sports sites that showed women displaying their athleticism in purely non-sexualized ways.
These images were raw facts that SHOULD HAVE forced her to abandon or at least seriously hedge her theory. Is that we she did? Of course not. She had room in her theory for these images. I couldn’t follow it. But she could not–would not–view these photos as what they clearly were: non-sexualized media images of women playing sports. She could not read these images as facts, only as Facts Already Incorporated Into Theory.
You know what, I’m going to stop here and think some more about this. It’ll end up as a post.
April 26, 2013 at 10:24 pm
That sounds about right.
To the larger question of the Left making up facts for fit their theories, which are in turn made up to help them feel better, it simply shows who’s in charge. They’ve won, they can say whatever the hell they want, and can expect deference. If you disagree convincingly enough, you’ll be brought up on blasphemy charges.
April 27, 2013 at 12:16 am
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