Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2009

Read enough odd books and you’ll find out all sorts of things.

Racism as we understand it today is fairly recent. Before the nineteenth century, people felt the same way about members of a different race as they did about subjects of a different nation whose ethnicity was similar to their own. In fact, the term “race” then meant lineage, which is why in old books there are references to “the French race” or “the Spanish race”, etc.

It often surprises modern people to discover that in bygone times, for example, black African monarchs were respected by Europeans as monarchs should be. People understood that among every group, there was a hierarchy, and this was recognized as valid; the Africans and the Chinese and everyone else had their sovereigns, aristocrats, geniuses, skilled craftsmen, honest peasantry, riffraff, etc. According to this, during the Regency period, wealthy black people (they were rare, but existed) were considered a prized asset as party guests and as spouses.

This is partly because at that time, there was no significant political facet to race. There was no large organized force of nonwhite people ready to press any advantage. But there is another reason as well.

In the nineteenth century, Carl Gustav Carus and Gustav Klemm founded racial thought. There are few racial essentialists today, at least of the intellectual variety, but the concepts of these two men still clearly influence the few still in existence. What concerns us about their ideas now is that they were, surprising as it seems today, egalitarian ones, intended to demolish the concept of social class.

…the chief appeal of racism in the nineteenth century was its politically progressive, even liberal, message. If all whites (or white males) were equal by race, there was no excuse for social or economic discrimination among them. Race theory shattered the claims of an aristocratic class to privilege and authority. Instead, all Frenchmen or Englishmen or Germans were endowed from birth with the same cultural gifts, regardless of social origin. And even as European society itself was moving in this happy, egalitarian direction, so must white cultural power naturally extend itself over the nonwhite world. In short, the whole direction of racial thinking in Europe was one of liberal egalitarian optimism, even self-satisfaction.

~Arthur Herman, The Idea of Decline in Western History

History has, of course, since shown that racist thought is deeply dangerous, and not only to nonwhites. Classism, which racism was intended to displace and probably did, never caused a fraction of the havoc.

All snobbery is about the problem of belonging….

Another simple device is to form and formulate the category itself in such a way that you should be included in the best possible circles. The position of the Negro in the United States is, fortunately, one of the many subjects which do not concern us here. But even a cursory glance at, or a nodding acquaintance with, the problem teaches us that the so-called Poor Whites simply desire to belong. If all whites are herded together; if all whites are members of the same group, then the Poor White is, logically, in the same class as the Southern Aristocrat.

~The Duke of Bedford’s Book of Snobs

Not all forms of snobbery are created equal.

Read Full Post »

My Premises

Since I am going to be airing my opinions regularly, I thought it might be useful to discuss certain of my underlying beliefs. They are hardly revolutionary, but are decidedly out of fashion.

First, I believe that people, all people, should have a great deal of power over their own lives, but very little over the lives of others. This is deceptively simple, but is virtually the opposite of the course of modern democracy. The pathology of democracy, indeed, is that it encourages everyone to aspire to rule others. Voting has come to be viewed as a basic human right, like that of not being murdered or robbed, even though voting is in fact wielding power over other people. Granted it is a merely symbolic sliver of power, but nonetheless, this power, this political authority, has come to be seen as the due of everyone who can achieve the feat of continuing to inhale and exhale for at least eighteen years. It is not confined to taxpayers, to people who have contributed to society in some way, or to people who have demonstrated competence; all you need is a pulse to help choose those who shall rule over your fellow man.

Similarly, activist and lobby groups strive to determine what their fellow citizens shall eat, drink, inhale, do for fun, what objects they may possess, what safeguards must be taken for their safety at every moment of their day regardless of their own wishes. The most recent ludicrous example of nanny-stating in my country is the new law forbidding the sale of children’s books printed before 1985. More and more, our decisions are made for us by others who were able to organize a voting bloc to reward politicians willing to impose the bloc’s will upon us all, or to raise enough funds for those same politicians’ advertising campaigns. In return for marshalling sufficient lucre or sufficient votes, any of your fellow citizens who wishes to can make your decisions for you. In a democracy, all of your unalienable rights are negotiable by those who make campaign contributions.

To me, one of the most ironic facets of this is that people are permitted to vote at eighteen, years before most people today are living as adults. Insulated from experience of the real world, spending hours each day listening to the nattering of Marxist megalomaniacs, they are a prime target for the machinations of those hoping to hold public office. Some people have been proposing lowering the age of voting to twelve, and the electorate has come to such a pass that I cannot feel anything other than indifference to the prospect.  Yet no one other than myself believes that twelve-year-olds ought to be permitted to work for a living or to leave abusive parents. Teenagers, it seems, are fit to make decisions for others, but not for themselves. This is less true of college age people, who do have the legal right to make such decisions, but the importance of college degrees in today’s society effectively prevents many of these legal adults from living as adults.

Nor is this confined to young people. Increasingly, it is coming to seem appropriate that each of us should strive to control what other people are permitted to eat or drink – consider the war on tobacco and the current attempts to control foods considered to be fattening – but that we are not entitled to make those same decisions for ourselves.

Not everybody is suited to take any part in the making of laws or the selection of officials, yet throughout the Western world today, everyone over eighteen, and soon likely even younger than that, is considered to have a sovereign right to do just that. On the other hand, every individual deserves the right to self-determination, and this is being eaten away by our democratic system.

My second major premise is: It should be possible, but not easy, to go against society’s traditional norms. For example: women are the most useful to society, and in most cases the happiest, if they are in the home, doing the vitally important work of caring for their children and of creating a home for the family.  Social pressures should encourage women to do this and recognize its value. The small minority of women who are so constituted that their nature requires a career outside the home should not be prevented by law from having it, but a woman who cannot overcome a measure of resistance to her doing so is not among that minority.  The current tremendous social and economic pressures on women to neglect their children and outsource their families’ nutrition to Ray Kroc are completely inappropriate and need to be put exactly in reverse. Even a more moderate attitude, where women’s choices to be either a wife and mother or pursue a career were respected equally, would be damaging to society. Civilization depends upon women being willing to provide their children with love and the first training for decent behavior and ethics, and to nourish their families properly – the majority of our skyrocketing health problems today are caused by malnutrition, the result of women becoming convinced that they have more important things to do than cook for their families. Unless she is discovering the cure for cancer, any woman would make a far more valuable contribution to the world by caring for her family than by anything she might do in the workplace. Women do not have any “right” to jobs outside the home. Allowing women to sue employers who do not hire them for “sex discrimination” is almost the equivalent of dragging children by force from their homes each day and tossing them into the care of people who are indifferent to them. Society should resume making it difficult for women to pursue careers outside their homes so that most of them will not do so… but we should not make it impossible for those who have a genuine innate need.

Similarly – and this view is one which often puts me at odds with people far less conservative than myself, and will please neither conservatives nor homosexuals – those who are truly inclined to homosexuality should be left to practice it without harassment. Since there is no evidence that the orientation is curable, it would be inhumane to do otherwise.  However, today’s politicization of homosexuality is completely inappropriate.  The majority of people are inclined to heterosexuality, and it is, for obvious reasons, valuable to society. The current climate which actually encourages heterosexuals to “experiment” with their own sex is deeply sick, and no more proper than attempting to force heterosexual behavior upon gays. Most people are straight. Homosexuality should only be engaged in by those who are born to it – and while those few should be left in peace to live as they must, this does not mean wielding their prerogatives as a political gaming piece or treating their unions as if they had the same value to society.

At least the fad of feminists “deciding” to be lesbians out of hatred of men rather than desire for women seems to have died out.

Alternative religions are another example. In the 1940’s, children’s comic books had surprisingly complex plots, and a striking number of the stories were about cults created for the purpose of bilking the idle rich out of their money. Such stories, once so commonplace that even children were expected to understand them, have disappeared today for fear of offending people who practice New Age religions. Christians are expected to swallow any and all insults to their faith. Jews are accorded more consideration because we are often seen as victims, but we too must endure having civilization’s ills laid at the doorstep of our oppressive patriarchal authoritarian monotheistic faith, if only because we bequeathed its tenets to the Christians.

But Muslims, pagans and followers of new manufactured religions are to be accorded every respect. Their tender sensibilities are to be tiptoed around with delicacy. Even though Western civilization was created almost entirely by Christians, every sign of Christianity must be purged from government buildings and where possible put out of public view so that unwary heathens will not be offended by the sight of them. Last year I got embroiled in an argument over the removal of plaques of the Ten Commandments (the foundation of the West’s morality) from American courtrooms. One of my chief arguments was that lawsuits over this are a waste of taxpayers’ money. (Why I imagined that progressives give two pins about wasting taxpayers’ money I cannot recall; perhaps I had been drinking.) My chief opponent’s chief argument was that I (not society in general or the government, me personally, even though my voter’s registration card is the extent of my involvement in government) had no right to support things that “made her feel marginalized”. To her, the most important factor in any situation was her emotions. Not what is just, or beneficial to a well functioning society, or within the rights of citizens, but how things made her feel. I am afraid that all she did was fuel my conviction that most people are unqualified to hold opinions on political matters. Please consider for a moment that this self-centered little drama queen is permitted to vote. Just think about that for a moment.

No, the government has no business decreeing to its citizens what they may believe. Unless some cult is killing people, delivering young girls into concubinage, or some other criminal activity, they have every right to worship imaginary gods or forces of nature or space aliens unmolested. But they have no right to the same respect accorded to millenia-old faiths which have made great contributions to world culture. Nor do they have any right to demand that the religion upon which our society was founded be banished from public mention.

People who must deviate from society’s norms must expect to find their lives, not impossible, but more difficult for it. They have no right to overturn the norms which have made civilized life possible for their own convenience.

Read Full Post »

Today’s conservatives generally trace the civilizational decay we deplore to the 1960s. That is, of course, when the weeds took over the garden, but it goes back much farther than that, at least to Rousseau. According to some, it really started with Luther.

What is really discouraging is that the trend towards progressivism has never been successfully resisted. A century ago there were men who saw the disasters towards which we were headed. Citizens fought the trends, to no avail. In The Meaning of Conservatism, Roger Scruton remarks, “Even respectable historians can describe conservatives as ‘staving off’, for a period of years, and inevitable ‘forward’ movement, while others ‘advance’ the liberal or socialist cause…. A socialist state that lasts ten years is a prelude to eternity; a conservative state that lasts thirty years is only a gesture of survival.” Unfortunately, history suggests that this attitude is entirely correct. So far as I can tell, the world will become increasingly more progressive until civilization collapses completely. Eventually civilization will rise out of the barbarism once more, but only after who knows how many centuries of human suffering, famine, oppression, and mass murder. I am not the first to point this out. So what is to be done? Books have been written, elections fought, and the process continues right on despite all we can do. It’s enough to make you want to move into the woods with a rifle and build yourself a log cabin, but at the current rate of immigration, in America, at least, there are unlikely to be enough woods left to hide in before long.

Mencius Moldbug has described progressivism as a highly adaptive system of thought. It is good at preserving itself and infecting others. Why exactly is this?

There are many reasons, one being the “envy” I discussed recently, another being the sense of moral superiority Thomas Sowell depicts in A Conflict of Visions. The one which I believe is the single most powerful, however, is that of license. I could say “freedom”, but that much-abused word has too many positive connotations. I will not insult any reader of this blog by assuming that they need the difference between the two explained to them.

Civilization depends upon a great deal of restraint, for both great matters and everyday ones. To achieve work of real importance, whether it is soldiering, building a ten-story building, or creating a work of art, requires a huge amount of discipline. Professions such as medicine require years of such discipline, much of which must be self-imposed, in order to reach any result. Besides innate ability, major achievements require years of studying or practicing instead of watching television, talking on the phone with friends, or surfing the internet. In other words, they require telling yourself “No” a thousand times.

Normal civilized life also involves a thousand “No’s”. No, you can’t have sex with anyone you want; you have to pick one person and stick with them. No, you can’t run out on your husband because you want the fun of new romances and still have him pay your bills. No, you can’t just grab your neighbor’s possessions, you have to pay for stuff of your own. No, you can’t treat the lord of the manor as if he were a criminal in the stocks waiting to have things thrown at him. No, you can’t kill your children just because you don’t feel like looking after them. No, you can’t expect to be paid and admired for throwing paint onto a canvas at random. No, you can’t start a new religion that involves you and the rest of the priesthood separating rich silly people from their money and bedding their teenage daughters. No, you can’t have a job you’re not capable of doing, even though it does look like fun. No, you can’t ingest any old substance you like. No, you can’t run naked down the street. No, no, no.

I would hazard a guess that most progressives have just one or two of these things they would like to do, and for the sake of those, they are willing to grant a great deal of license to others. It’s a sort of a quid pro quo: you let me steal the fruits of my neighbor’s work (in the form of welfare), I’ll let you sue employers who won’t hire you just because you’re unqualified. Small wonder that people expect homosexuals to automatically support progressivism (which they usually do); in return for the license to commit previously forbidden sexual acts, they are supposed to support the license of others to murder their children. (So far it’s only the unborn ones, but already people are advocating extending abortion “rights” to killing children as old as two.)

Of course progressivism is popular. It means never saying “No” to self-indulgence.

Read Full Post »

Egalitarianism Destroys Standards

I have been intending to post this for a few days, as followup to my post about aristocracy supporting achievement, and a link I acquired this morning via An Englishman’s Castle  prompted me to action. Because the fact is, the notion that everybody ought to be exactly equal in the eyes of the law leads inevitably to the notion that everybody ought to be equal, period, and the only way to maintain that absurdity is by lowering standards. This is what has been going on for the last several decades, and why the products of the last few decades are almost all ugly and comical. This is not something that might hypothetically occur at some point in the future, it has already occurred.

The Englishman posted this link which gives a perfect example: Anger after student stages ‘suicide’ as performance art.

A SWEDISH art student has been condemned by police and medical staff after she faked a suicide attempt and then attacked a hospital’s psychiatric nurses and doctors as part of a “play”.

For her final project before graduation, Anna Odell, 35, pretended she was about to take her own life by jumping off a bridge. Horrified witnesses called police, who restrained the kicking and screaming woman.

To heighten the irony, when I visited the page, the sponsor ad was for a company called “Snorgtees” and featured three adolescent tarts wearing T-shirts, the first of which bore the slogan, “I’M KIND OF A BIG DEAL.” I find myself tempted to send Miss Odell one of them, except that she probably wouldn’t understand that it was an insult. Also, on rereading the article, I see that she is 35, and thus well past the age when silly, narcissistic behavior can be partly excused by youth.

This article naturally reminded me of another “art student” who made headlines a few months back: For senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse. This little tramp videotaped herself pretending to perform multiple home abortions on herself. Besides having the effrontery to make this her senior art project at Yale (which, some of you may recall, was once a school with standards), she also pretended that the abortions were real. The day the news was released many people believed her claim that she had spent months getting herself pregnant “as often as possible” and then aborting her children for the camera, all for an art project. When the university revealed that the abortions were fake (and others pointed out the biological unlikelihood of the enterprise), she continued to insist that they were real; apparently, sticking to the lie was part of the “project”.

I believe it is in order to remind ourselves of what an art education is supposed to equip a person to do:

This is by John William Godward, who committed suicide when the hoax known as “modern art” destroyed his career. His suicide note said that there was not enough room in the world for both him and Picasso.

Once we lowered our standards enough for Picasso and Mondrian, it was only a matter of time before silly girls who couldn’t draw a stick figure started presenting their neurotic bids for attention as “art”. Tell narcissists with no ability that they are equal to Alma-Tadema and publicity stunts like these follow inevitably.

Shall we go on? In the nineteenth century, preteens were reading Dante in school. American children not yet into two digits knew the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and most of the Bible by heart. Nowadays, well, I suspect that only two or three of my teachers had even read any of these works, and they were old enough to remember higher standards. Academic standards had to be lowered so that everybody could reach them, because not everybody could do what was once demanded.

Before equality, black Americans gave the world jazz, one of the most moving, complex, life-affirming forms of music ever created. Now, the race which gave us Marian Anderson and Louis Armstrong has given up singing and creating melodies in exchange for talking rhythmically. It can’t be racial inferiority causing blacks to produce “music” as worthless as rap, though it must be a tempting argument to the remaining racists in the world; less than a century ago they created something of infinitely more artistic worth. No, the egalitarian lowering of standards is to blame.

Finally:

jolielauren_bacall

I got these images from Wikipedia, which says the one of Miss Jolie was taken at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It’s like they were trying to prove my point. In 1948, did anybody invite an actress to a “world economic forum”?

Read Full Post »

My esteemed fellow blogger the Evil Style Queen has posted a very interesting discussion of a recent post of mine.

Read Full Post »