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Things are as they normally are. We have been extremely lucky to have avoided revolution completely and great civil unrest since the 1960s. I could blog all day about BLM, defunding police, anarchists, the Democrats. What I observe is an anti-white anti-rational, anti-Enlightenment cultural and would-be political revolution. That is the part of the elephant that I can feel. It is against standards of any kind, the truth, the possibility of truth, the Enlightenment (viz David Hume). It is generated by malignant forces of the Left (because that is what they call themselves) against the rest of society, which they imagine to be on the brink of fascism. As I look around the principal fascist forces call themselves Antifa.
I think we are in a nearly desperate situation, but I think it can still be turned around. But we are in for a decade of increasing civil disorder, greater poverty, and stresses that will lead to war.
Douglas Murray captures my feelings exactly. We have had it so good for so long that we have tolerated fools and termites in universities undermining the bases of intellectual and moral standards. By their fruits ye shall know them.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Sometimes an article of fundamental importance gets through the ideological filters. One such was the publication this week in Science and reported on in Scientific American of the psychological and cultural effects of banning cousin marriages.
From the Scientific American report of it: “The engine of that evolution, the authors propose, was the church’s obsession with incest and its determination to wipe out the marriages between cousins that those societies were built on. The result, the paper says, was the rise of “small, nuclear households, weak family ties, and residential mobility,” along with less conformity, more individuality, and, ultimately, a set of values and a psychological outlook that characterize the Western world. The impact of this change was clear: the longer a society’s exposure to the church, the greater the effect.”
And from the article in Science in the words of the authors: “A growing body of research suggests that populations around the globe vary substantially along several important psychological dimensions and that populations characterized as Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) are particularly unusual. People from these societies tend to be more individualistic, independent, and impersonally prosocial (e.g., trusting of strangers) while revealing less conformity and in-group loyalty. Although these patterns are now well documented, few efforts have sought to explain them. Here, we propose that the Western Church (i.e., the branch of Christianity that evolved into the Roman Catholic Church) transformed European kinship structures during the Middle Ages and that this transformation was a key factor behind a shift towards a WEIRDer psychology.”
The scientists continue: “Globally, we show that countries with longer historical exposure to the medieval Western Church or less intensive kinship (e.g., lower rates of cousin marriage) are more individualistic and independent, less conforming and obedient, and more inclined toward trust and cooperation with strangers (see figure). Focusing on Europe, where we compare regions within countries, we show that longer exposure to the Western Church is associated with less intensive kinship, greater individualism, less conformity, and more fairness and trust toward strangers. Finally, comparing only the adult children of immigrants in European countries, we show that those whose parents come from countries or ethnic groups that historically experienced more centuries under the Western Church or had less intensive kinship tend to be more individualistic, less conforming, and more inclined toward fairness and trust with strangers.”
I am as much astonished as pleased with this report. Astonished, because it violates every contemporary commandment of political correctness, or the madness that is sweeping our intellectual life. Pleased, because it does so.
In general, you are not permitted to how that modern western mores might be preferable, let alone superior, to others, and more, that religion might have been the source of these values.
Cousin marriages have genetic effects. Visit childhood disease and mortality statistics from cousin marriages. Observe that societies or religions that extensively practice cousin marriages have much higher levels of genetic diseases than those which eschew the practice. For example, see the Guardian article here:
“Marriage between first cousins doubles the risk of children being born with birth defects, according to a study seeking answers to the higher than expected rates of deaths and congenital abnormalities in the babies of the Pakistani community.
“Researchers have concluded that the cultural practice of marriage between first cousins is a bigger factor than any other – outweighing the effects of deprivation in parts of Bradford, where the study was carried out. Marriage to a blood relative accounted for nearly a third (31%) of all birth defects in babies of Pakistani origin.
The main point of the Science article was not genetic defects, however, but the cultural effects on trust, conformity, openness, innovation, obedience to general law, and looseness of kinship connections by the proscription of first cousin marriages.
My question remains unanswered. I do not know how this article slipped through the pervasive censorship by the egalitarian forces that determine so much of what we are allowed to see. A glitch in the matrix is always possible, but people like Steve Sailer, Razib Khan, Gregory Cochrane and Henry Harpending, and other explorers in the minefields of culture and breeding have reasonable cause to be envious.
An interesting article in Manhattan Contrarian today reminds me of the importance of envy as a way to understand the root of leftist politics. Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. Unlike the other six (wrath, sloth, gluttony, pride, lust and greed), envy cannot exist without comparison to others. Envy is always about how one feels about another, be it a person or some abstraction, like a nation or a political system. We shall return to envy shortly. In the meantime, contemplate these facts.
The author of Manhattan Contrarian, Francis Menton, was touring Cambodia and describes the Cambodian genocide.
“When the killings started in 1975, there were fewer than 8 million Khmer in Cambodia (and not too many more outside). Four years later, the population of the country was well under 5 million. Historian Ben Kiernan has estimated the number murdered at 1.7 million. Others place the number at between 2 and 2.5 million. Most died in actual one-on-one executions, although there was also plenty of mass starvation. Literally everyone lost multiple friends and/or family members.
“Recognizing that causation is a very complex subject and that a series of events can have many causes, it is still true that in every version of the Cambodian genocide that I have found the causation story comes back to the same thing: ideology. In this case the ideology was communism, that pernicious European quasi-religious idea that somehow got taken up in the twentieth century by various Asians as the preferred route to utopia. New dictator Pol Pot got it into his head to impose a “pure” form of Maoist communism, which involved getting rid of all vestiges of capitalism and forcing everybody into a collectivized agrarian economy. Before the killings even got going, the entire populations of the cities and most villages were marched out forcibly into the countryside and resettled. From The Culture Trip:
[After Pol Pot assumed power in April 1975] residents were immediately rounded up and sent to the countryside as part of the communist regime’s plans to create an agrarian society. Personal possessions were confiscated, money abolished, family ties severed and the almighty Angkar [political police] set the brutal laws, which saw the population sent to work the land under appalling conditions.
“How did they decide whom to kill? The basic concept was, anybody who did not subscribe perfectly and in every respect to the ideological script, or who was suspected even a little of less than perfect loyalty to the regime. As the genocide got going, the criteria came to include anyone who had achieved any success in life, however minimal: every owner of significant property, every professional, every entrepreneur, every academic, every teacher. From Wikipedia:
The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals.
“According to information I got from one of our local guides, at the end of the “killing fields” period, there remained in Cambodia only about 40 medical doctors, 52 university-level teachers, 200 high school-level teachers, and 2000 elementary school-level teachers. These people had survived by lying low and not admitting who they were. The country had been substantially set back to the stone age.”
There is a theory that explains this behaviour, and another that justifies it. The justification for class extermination comes from Karl Marx. The explanation for the motives that drive the extermination of the intelligent and the accomplished comes from a man called Helmut Schoeck.
The power of envy is not sufficiently appreciated, either for its pervasive negative effects, or that it takes political forms. The great book on the subject was written by a Austrian-German professor who taught in the United States, Helmut Shoeck, (3 July 1922 – 2 February 1993) and it is called simply, Envy.
Schoeck sees envy as a pervasive force throughout human affairs, stifling and even deadly in its effects if unconstrained, and in constant need of containment. He argues that envy is one of the chief forces causing underdevelopment in many parts of the world. Further, that until the social power of envy was abated, economic development as we have come to experience was blocked at every turn. Avoiding the “evil eye”, he says, is one of the expressions that the power of envy takes in many parts of the world. Entire societies, from Andean peasants to Arabs, are held back by the need to avoid the envy of one’s neighbours by visibly succeeding, which means, in essence, by accumulating, more property than one’s neighbours.
His interpretation of Protestantism connects to the struggle against envy and the takeoff of modern economic development in some parts of the world since the Reformation. Schoeck writes that the idea of God in Calvinism was crucial to the liberation of those personal and social forces and self-authorizations that underlie capitalist development. This idea was of a God who envies us nothing. If God does not envy, why should we?
Marxism, in this view, is but the resurrection of the power of envy into a supposedly scientific theory. “It is only in Marxism, the abstract and glorified concept of the proletariat, the disinherited and exploited, that a position of implacable envy is fully legitimized.”
Schoeck was the first man, to my knowledge, to understand explicitly the force of envy as a destructive and pervasive social pressure, which needs all the power of religion to repress and to contain. I have managed to describe Shoeck’s thinking in bare outline here; I recommend the book. It is one of the most important I have ever read.
I end with a quote from Schoeck on the real nature of envy:
“But Chaucer also sees envy as the worst of sins because nearly all the rest oppose only one virtue, whereas envy turns against all the virtues and against everything that is good. It denies, as we would now say, every value in the scale or table of values. Because the envious man takes exception to his neighbour’s every virtue and advantage, the sin of envy is distinct from all others. Every other kind of sin is in itself pleasurable, to some degree productive of satisfaction, but envy only produces envy and sorrow. Chaucer holds envy to be a sin against nature because it consists in the first place of distress over other people’s goodness and prosperity, and prosperity is naturally a matter of joy. In the second place envy consists of joy in the ills and suffering that befall others. This envy is like the devil, who always rejoices in human suffering.”
Doctrines that unleash the power of envy end in massacre, as Cambodia’s attempted social purification attests, along with the massacre of Ukrainian farmers and Europe’s Jews under the Nazis, to name only the modern examples. I wonder how much of the abhorrence on the Covington kids by the outraged political left is essentially envy of their bright normalness, their happiness, their whiteness, which they disguise from themselves by calling it white privilege.
The recent media kerfuffle about some boys from Covington high school and their supposedly awful attacks on some poor old Indian have turned around into a media catastrophe. The leftist press got everything wrong – no surprise – but was apprehended in the act, and had to back off. The entire incident will be forgotten in a week. I present this as an important reason why I try not to participate in the blogging of outrage.
In the time the entire event arose, spread, was refuted, and collapsed, I had to go to hospital for a cardiac procedure. (I am well thank you). The slight risk of actual death has a wonderfully concentrating effect on the mind. I turned to youtube videos about saw mills and cabin building. They are my way of engaging in escapist literature.
More than this, they concentrate me into practical efforts that bring exercise, accomplishment, and deep satisfaction in their wake.
The net tendency of Internet participation is to be constantly aggravated. If you are like me, it will be offended by the leftist assault on reason, history, religion, males, the white race, Christianity and morality. If you are anti-Trump, then everything happening these days will be offensive to you sensibilities. The best way to regain your poise and equanimity is to stop paying attention to the shadow play of politics.
I realize this is not what a political blog ought to say. Yet I am more concerned with my own health and sanity than I am with Trump, Trudeau or any of the dozens of points of concern, such as Brexit, Venezuala, or building pipelines in Canada. We have to remember that the reasons why we are conservatives is that most of life lies beyond and outside of politics, and it is to those wells that we go to draw our spiritual water.
Sometime ago the elites decided that we are all wrong, and that western civilization needs to be destroyed from inside. Heather MacDonald said this movement of decline and decadence began in the 1960s. She is the author of many good books, The Burden of Bad Ideas published in 2000, is among them.
This is what she sounded like in the year 2000, which is what she says in 2018. She has been right for a long time.
Sally Satel, MD, is worth listening to as well.
You have all heard of the firing of James Damore, who had the bravery to object to the prevailing ideology at Google, namely that the absence or scarcity of women in some engineering roles at Google was the result of bias and unlawful discrimination, rather than self selection and natural differences between men and women.
The process inside of Google of having him isolated and punished, and further wrecking his chances after his firing, is described in this article in Gizmodo.
Our response after we fired him was equally disgraceful. We were supposed to have a Town Hall TGIF to answer employees’ questions about the controversy. However, after questions started coming in that we couldn’t reasonably answer, we had to cancel it. We shifted the blame onto “alt-right trolls” and have avoided talking about it openly since then.
To control the narrative, we planted stories with journalists and flexed Google’s muscles where necessary. In exchange for insider access and preferential treatment, all we ask for is their loyalty. For online media, Google’s ads pay their paycheck and our search brings their customers, so our influence shouldn’t be underestimated.
We dealt with his NLRB -National Labor Relations Board – case in a similar way. People are ultimately lazy, so we found a sympathetic lawyer in the NLRB and wrote the internal NLRB memo for her. No one wanted to spend the effort to oppose it, despite it being laughably weak. Then, after Damore dropped his NLRB case and filed a class action lawsuit, we had the NLRB publicly release their memo. Our PR firms sent press releases saying “the NLRB ruled the firing legal”, which was, of course, manufactured bullshit.
All of our scheming was over the phone, in deleted emails, or through an external PR firm, so we can deny all of it. Now that we’ve forced him into arbitration, we’re close to screwing him over completely.
The posting’s authenticity is discussed in the conversations below the main posting in Gizmodo.
Scene: Ron Swansons’s office in Parks and Recreation
Secretary opens door and asks: “Am I interrupting anything important?”
Ron Swanson: “Impossible, I work for the government”.
While not exactly true, Ron Swanson still delivers a good line. Lower layers of government can use a few staunch libertarians. Higher levels of government can use some conservatives, if by that you mean people with the tragic view of life. The limited vision of government praised by Thomas Sowell.
Charles Murray is the author of The Bell Curve, Human Accomplishment and Coming Apart, among other works. Any conservative minded person ought to have read these books, and liberals who want to inquire into why we think them mostly wrong. His insights into why things are getting worse, for men, for family formation, for society, and then for women, provides a necessary corrective to Steven Pinker’s rosy view set forth in Enlightenment Now.
There is a moment in the interview below which prompted a blog posting this morning. The issue was the sorting of society on the basis of cognitive ability, which is the essential claim of The Bell Curve. Murray remarks (at 15:30) that “What we are doing now is creating a world which is congenial to people of high IQs. People of high IQ love complexity. They think complexity is fun. That’s why you have Kohlberg at Harvard coming up with his seven stages of moral reasoning….. But, a world governed by that kind of complexity is difficult to deal with if you are not very smart”.
The interview is well worth watching. He preaches the idea that the point of law should be to provide a clear moral compass so as to allow people the maximum moral autonomy which is what he calls “libertarianism”.
I bring up this issue of simplicity and complexity because I spent an evening with liberals last night, possibly wrecking their digestion and certainly providing them with a memorable conflict. At the basis of much of the disagreement was the idea that social democracy – assuming we know what that means – is a morally superior system because it displays the highest levels of compassion. Hence belief in social democracy means necessarily that one is morally superior, because one has more compassion. Thus if I hold that 53% of GDP should be spent by government, and my political opponent says 46%, or 36%, I do not have to think hard about the consequences of a bloated state sector because I have a superior measure of compassion.
Since the criterion of political virtue is compassion, and compassion is best judged by how well society takes care of the poor and the indigent, and thirdly, that this compassion is accomplished through Scandinavian style state intervention, then in substance there is not much further one needs to think about politics.
Forget for a moment the doubtful superiority of Scandinavian welfare statism for showing compassion. My objection is deeper, and less fact-based.
I find such a one-dimensional view of the purposes of political life repugnant. What about virtue, accomplishment, achievement, belonging, and greatness, collective or individual, in a society that understands and appreciates what greatness is?
I have just begun reading Francis Fukuyama’s Identity, the Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, and already it is evident that he is talking about the real issues of our time.
“But as important as material self interest is, human beings are motivated by other things as well, motives that better explain the disparate events of the present. This might be called the politics of resentment. In a wide variety of cases, a political leader has mobilized followers around the perception that the group’s dignity has been affronted , disparaged, or otherwise disregarded. This resentment engenders demands for public recognition of the dignity of the group in question. A humiliated group seeking restitution of its dignity carries far more weight than people simply pursuing their economic advantage”. (at page 7)
And what group has undergone a persistent social decline of status in the past thirty years? All men? Men of the American working class? Take your pick. This leads us to what Scott Adams and I have been talking about in relation to the Kavanaugh witch hunt. It is not merely the American working class male that is taking a beating, it is all males.
Our booze-fueled hook-up culture has made relations between men and women messier than ever, leaving many girls and women with pangs of regret—but those regrets do not equal rape. If we were actually in the midst of an “epidemic of sexual assault,” as New Jersey senator Cory Booker asserted the evening of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings, we would presumably have seen women and girls take protective actions, such as avoiding frat parties and flocking to single-sex schools. None of those protective actions has occurred, however. Either women are too clueless to avoid patent danger, or the epidemic of sexual assault is a fiction. All evidence points to the latter conclusion. Judge Brett Kavanaugh may be the latest male to have his life torn apart by that fiction, but he won’t be the last.
Accordingly, I think a male backlash is finally going to manifest itself, not just by dropping out, as young men have been doing, but by male identitarian politics at the ballot box. It cannot start too soon. Compassion and social democracy will take back seat to a necessary social change that is long overdue.
Fukuyama on Identity