Archive for October, 2009

Another example of the tyranny of unelected bureaucracies:

Secret court seizes £3.2bn from elderly… and even forces furious families to pay to access own bank account

A secret court is seizing the assets of thousands of elderly and mentally impaired people and turning control of their lives over to the State – against the wishes of their relatives.

The draconian measures are being imposed by the little-known Court of Protection, set up two years ago to act in the interests of people suffering from Alzheimer’s or other mental incapacity.

The court hears about 23,000 cases a year – always in private – involving people deemed unable to take their own decisions. Using far-reaching powers, the court has so far taken control of more than £3.2billion of assets.

The cases involve civil servants from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which last year took £23million in fees directly from the bank accounts of those struck down by mental illness, involved in accidents or suffering from dementia. …

The organisation has 300 staff, costs £26.5million a year to run and is headed by £80,000-a-year career civil servant Martin John, a former head of asylum and immigration policy in Whitehall. It prepares reports for the Court of Protection, based in a tower block in Archway, North London.

Dr. Robert Epstein, author of The Case Against Adolescence, offered some good links about the folly of artificially prolonging childhood:



* One more thing which has led to the modern underestimation of youth: urban dangers. I think it was Richard Leakey who pointed out that we “waste time” being afraid of snakes, spiders, lions, and other animals, which were a great threat to our ancestors but not to us, but don’t feel anything like the fear we should of technological malfunctions. Thus, we have urban children having nightmares about wolves but unconcerned about cars, electricial outlets, and stoves. Ayn Rand, who asserted repeatedly and incorrectly that humans have “no instincts”, used this sort of thing as an illustration of her theory that emotions derive from the logical mind: if you point a gun at an adult, he will be afraid, but if you point it at a baby, who has no idea what a gun is, he will laugh and may even reach for it, thinking it is a toy. She did not mention, and probably did not know, that if you give a baby a snake, he will not reach for it, he will scream, even if he has never seen a snake before. Parents observe their babies sticking their fingers in electric sockets or trying to grab the handles of pots of boiling water and conclude that their children are idiots who need to be told everything. They do need to be told everything, but they are not idiots; put a snake or a wolf near them and they will respond very rationally.

But it isn’t surprising that having to spend years teaching children to stay out of the street and keep their fingers out of the blender should lead parents to conclude that children’s brains are nonfunctional and that the natural equipment won’t preserve their lives. Put some wolves in the street and a spider on the blender and you’ll have no trouble at all.

* Progressives always respond to scientific evidence of innate differences between individual humans as well as groups of humans with hysterical shrieks of “Nazi!” They seem to believe that the moment you concede that there are more men with high IQs than women, or that some ethnic groups (i.e. Ashkenazi Jews) have generally higher IQs than others, or even that some individuals are born with higher IQs and greater talents than others and thus far nothing has been discovered which will change this, that the logical next step is murdering all the “inferiors”.

This is because to them, it is the logical next step. Right now, it is their justification for murdering the unborn: the unborn have little ability, even to breathe unassisted, therefore they are less than human and it is all right to murder them. In the Soviet era, it was their excuse for the mass murders of the USSR: they were killing the unactualized, less than human ones so that they could manufacture more highly evolved, actualized humans. It is also their excuse for trampling over the rights and wishes of “middle Americans” in this so-called democracy; the yokels in the flyover states and their European equivalents must be deprived of everything they value so that the enlightened ones may cram enlightenment down the throats of everyone.

Progressives have no comprehension of the Judeo-Christian valuing of all human life, even that of “inferiors”. They can’t imagine that we do. We say, “Joe is not up to a difficult, intellectually demanding job,” and they hear, “Send Joe to the gas chamber!”

* Historically, progressives have always been eager to go to war to further their utopian aims. It was progressives who insisted upon invading the Confederacy rather than let those states exercise their sovereign right to self-government. It was progressives who dragged the U.S. into World War I, a war in which there was no logical reason for us to be involved. There is speculation that progressive Franklin Delano Roosevelt allowed the attack on Pearl Harbor to happen so that he would have an excuse to get us into the Second World War, a war which destroyed the British Empire, allowed the Soviet Union to expand its territory, and robbed many European nations of their rightful sovereigns and protectors. Even nowadays, they view highly aggressive Islamic regimes with great affection.

Today’s progressives gave Slick Willie a pass on Kosovo, and have been remarkably silent on the fact that there are currently more American troops in Afghanistan than there ever were during the Bush administration. Nevertheless, they have identified themselves so thoroughly as an “anti-war” ideology that it has become difficult to imagine them any other way. I have even seen their anti-war rhetoric used as support for the untenable theory that the Nazis were “left-wing”. Sure, they practiced socialism, pseudo-paganism, and affirmative action favoring ethnic groups considered to be less intelligent and able at the expense of those considered to be smarter and more able, but they were warlike, so they must have been on the right!

I was wondering why in recent decades a movement which has historically been exceedingly bloodthirsty should have attempted to cloak itself in dove clothing. It is no doubt partly because everybody claims to be in favor of “peace”. Even military strategists claim so: Si vis pacem para bellum.” Let him who desires peace prepare for war. Sherman, probably the most brutal butcher America has ever produced, claimed that he yearned only for the peace which would have frustrated his murderous urges. Hitler said that he wanted only peace. Sure, peace after he had all the Lebensraum he wanted – a little piece of Poland, a little piece of France.

I think the real reason was that at the time this “peace” babbling began, progressives still had a realistic hope that the Soviet Union would invade the U.S., after which Europe would likely have joined the bloc as well. They wanted Westerners as unprepared to deal with it as possible so as to hasten the victory of the Worker’s Paradise.

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Yesterday I came across an absolutely heartbreaking article.

Running in the Shadows: Recession Drives Surge in Youth Runaways

Some teenagers are running away because their parents, stressed by the recession, are taking their frustrations out on their kids, physically as well as emotionally abusing them. The promoters of anti-youth laws love to claim that runaways are brats who took off in a snit because their parents wouldn’t buy them an iPod, but in real life, nearly all runaways are fleeing horrific conditions. But in many cases, the parents are themselves throwing their teenagers out of the house. This is illegal, but they’re doing it anyway.

The boys were also runaways. But unlike them, Betty said, she had been reported missing to the police. That meant that if the boys let her stay overnight in their hidden tent encampment by the freeway, they risked being arrested for harboring a fugitive.

Giving a young girl shelter in which she might escape rape or assault is a crime.

“We keep running into this,” said one of the boys, Clinton Anchors, 18. Over the past year, he said, he and five other teenagers living together on the streets had taken under their wings no fewer than 20 children — some as young as 12 — and taught them how to avoid predators and the police, survive the cold and find food.

“We always first try to send them home,” said Clinton, who himself ran away from home at 12. “But a lot of times they won’t go, because things are really bad there. We basically become their new family.”

Nice someone is willing to do what these kids’ families won’t.

Too young to get a hotel room, sign a lease or in many cases hold a job, young runaways are increasingly surviving by selling drugs, panhandling or engaging in prostitution, according to the National Runaway Switchboard, the federally-financed national hot line created in 1974. Legitimate employment was hard to find in the summer of 2009; the Labor Department said fewer than 30 percent of teenagers had jobs.

So here’s a radical proposition for relieving the horrors of homelessness, destitution, and crime to which these teenagers are subject:


When it’s legal for a teenager who isn’t lucky enough to have decent parents to be a law-abiding citizen without living with constant battering and rape and possible murder, they will be. Right now, if they get tired of being the constant victims of felonies, they have no choice but to turn to crime. And if leaving their parents means they’ll have to get a job and support themselves, they aren’t going to leave unless things really are bad at home.

Besides which, “adolescence” is a fake phenomenon. Until the twentieth century, nobody noticed that it existed. At that age, girls were looking for husbands and boys were entering the workplace or going for higher education – of a sort only found in master’s degree programs today, but then, this was when preteens were considered capable of studying ancient Greek.

And what is the result of allowing teenagers to do real jobs? Surely it must be terrible, as everyone knows (read: is constantly assured) that all teenagers are creatures of constant deranged, powerful impulses who must be watched every instant lest they go on mad sprees of killing, stealing and using illicit substances.

Once again, that pesky thing known as history gives this myth the lie:

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

Thomas Johnston Taylor, businessman and public servant: born Glasgow 27 April 1912; President, Scottish Co-Operative Wholesale Society 1965-70; created 1968 Baron Taylor of Gryfe; Chairman, Forestry Commission 1970-76; Chairman, Scottish Railways Board 1971-80; chairman, Morgan Grenfell (Scotland) 1973-85; Chairman, Economic Forestry Group 1976-81; FRSE 1977; Chairman, Scottish Action on Dementia 1989-95; married 1943 Isobel Wands (two daughters); died St Andrews 13 July 2001.

From being a 14-year-old school leaver from Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow who had lost his father in France at the age of three in the First World War, to chairmanships of the Forestry Commission and the Scottish Railways Board and membership of the international board of Morgan Grenfell and House of Lords select committees, Tom Taylor’s journey was one of constructive achievement. Having to earn a living at 14, he became an office boy in the Scottish Co-Operative Wholesale Society, then the biggest commercial organisation in Scotland; he was eventually to become its president.

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie was born on 25 November 1835 in Dunfermline, Scotland in a typical weaver’s cottage with only one main room consisting of half the ground floor which was shared with the neighbouring weaver’s family.[2] … His first job at age 13 in 1848 was as a bobbin boy, changing spools of thread in a cotton mill twelve hours a day, six days a week. His wages were $1.25 per week.[4] …

In 1850, Carnegie became a telegraph messenger boy in the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegraph Company, at $2.50 per week,[5] following the recommendation of his uncle. His new job gave him many benefits including free admission to the local theater. This made him appreciate Shakespeare’s work. He was a very hard worker and would memorize all of the locations of Pittsburgh’s businesses and the faces of important men. He made many connections this way. He also paid close attention to the telegraph’s instruments and within a year was promoted as an operator.

Carnegie’s education and passion for reading was given a great boost by Colonel James Anderson, who opened his personal library of 400 volumes to working boys each Saturday night.

Jose Silva

Jose Silva’s life is more than a great American success story. It has transcended time and space to become one of the world’s all time great success stories.

Orphaned at the age of six, he began to support his family by selling newspapers, shining shoes, and doing odd jobs. Jose learned to read and write on his own – in both English and Spanish.

He became an entrepreneur, inventor, and pioneer of self-hypnosis and meditation techniques.

John Wanamaker

He attended the Landreth Public School until he was 14, when he was employed as an errand boy in the publishing house of Troutman and Hayes on Market Street below Fifth at a salary of $1.25 a week.

He became a hugely successful merchant, as well as a philanthropist and public servant.

Admiral Farragut

Farragut entered the US Navy as a midshipman in 1811. At 12 years old while serving in the War of 1812 he received his first command, a captured british whaling ship.

Here’s a few more examples. Also, Laura Ingalls Wilder had her first teaching job at the age of fifteen. The law required that teachers be a minimum of sixteen years old and pass a test, but they neglected to ask her age, and she passed the test with no trouble. I doubt many of today’s college-educated schoolteachers could pass that test. This was an era when by the age of ten most children had memorized the Declaration of Independence (in fifth grade, I was required to memorize the first three sentences, and we never read it in school – I read it on my own) and much of the Bible, and could diagram sentences. In my years of school, we only diagrammed sentences once, the year I had Mrs. Peeler, and Mrs. Peeler was probably one of Laura Ingalls’ students. (Okay, I exaggerate a little.) I remember the distress of one of my professors, a very old man, that he had to explain to us that an ellipse must be followed by a period, something I routinely see omitted in published books and magazines. He said, “Grammatical rules should not have to be taught in college.” I concur, professor, but not only were you the first person to tell us this and other rules, you were probably the first person we encountered who knew these rules. Except for Mrs. Peeler, and not everybody had Mrs. Peeler in seventh grade, more’s the pity. In high school, one of my English teachers, asked whether the past tense of “sneak” is “sneaked” or “snuck”, had to look it up.

In recent years, dubious scientific research has purported to “prove” that teenagers biologically have no self-control, and that such things as the understanding of cause and effect, the moral sense, and empathy do not begin to neurologically develop until the twenties and other such rot. These studies have been seized upon eagerly by parents who like to beat their children in lieu of any other way of teaching them proper behavior, the rationale apparently being that children whose brains cannot comprehend cause and effect will temporarily acquire this ability long enough to grasp the connection of the cause of bad behavior with the effect of being beaten. (I am not opposed to all corporal punishment, of children or adults, but I have witnessed much too much child abuse not to believe that it must be administered carefully, and a distressing amount of the talk I hear about it is based on obviously wrong premises, such as this one. I will probably write a post on this at some point.)

I will continue to dismiss such studies out of hand until one of these articles explains such things as why teenagers and children are frequently observed to have morals and empathy, why well-reared youngsters display more self-control than children subjected to chaotic homes, how babies who do not understand cause and effect are able to learn to crawl without their little brains noticing that when they move their arms and legs in such a way they are able to locomote themselves, and most of all, why nobody noticed any of this before the twentieth century. In point of fact, if all this rubbish is true, why did the first naked ape to rear onto its hind legs not get eaten by a bear during those crazed adolescent years, nipping our species in the bud? Our species would never have survived if our brains really take as long as these people claim to work.

[ETA: Alrenous linked this article which provides a scientific debunking of what was obviously nonsense to begin with.]

The bar mitzvah, when a Jewish boy is understood to reach the age of moral responsibility, happens, according to these researchers, a decade before any such responsibility can possibly be expected. Judaism is about 4,000 years old. In all that time, we haven’t seen any reason to move the age up, so evidently it’s worked out okay.

In counterpoint to the fashionable theory of the adolescent brain, I would like to point out that a greater willingness to take risks only makes sense for teenagers. In pre-industrial societies, this would be their time of greatest energy and fertility. This was when they needed to demonstrate to their society what they could do, to win a place in their society. Risk-taking is, well, risky, but it’s also a necessary thing. Especially, it’s necessary for reproduction. I’m almost forty. If I were looking for a spouse now, I would be so discerning that I would probably remain single; years of experience and the natural cynicism of age make me see the downside to every possible relationship. If twenty-year-olds felt this way, the species would die out. The idea is, we pair off in our teens or twenties when we feel the optimism to believe that we can deal with whatever problems come with committing to the person who has caught our eye. By the time that risk-taking feeling has worn off with age, we are generally already married with a couple of kids, and in most cases, even if our spouse has been in some ways disappointing and no longer makes the hormones flow, the years of looking after each other and raising children together has given us something to make the relationship still worthwhile. In fact, the decreased willingness to take risks happens precisely to make us less likely to leave our spouse of twenty years and our children to run off with somebody young and goodlooking. To put it less clinically, over time a different form of love develops from the original infatuation, but only time can make that kind of bond possible.

Too often we confuse the normal cycles of life with maturity and immaturity. Normal changes over time in hormones and neurology are not the same thing. Maturity is an intellectual and spiritual quality which not everybody achieves with age. The normal changes, such as becoming more risk-averse and less passionate about things in general, are no more signs of maturity than arthritis is. It’s simply what best serves our survival, and that of our children, at a later age.

Also: ‘Brain decline’ begins at age 27

If the researchers I cited earlier are correct, this means that we have about five years of our lives when we can be trusted with responsible behavior.

A couple more items on why adolescence is a pathological construct:

Let’s Abolish High School By Robert Epstein

Well, not quite. But while writing a new book called The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen, I explored some ideas that go almost that far.

Why Nerds are Unpopular

And as for the schools, they were just holding pens within this fake world. Officially the purpose of schools is to teach kids. In fact their primary purpose is to keep kids locked up in one place for a big chunk of the day so adults can get things done. And I have no problem with this: in a specialized industrial society, it would be a disaster to have kids running around loose.

I have to take exception to that last bit, of course, but the article is excellent. What we really need to do is bring back apprenticeships.

By the way, if we allow adolescents to have jobs, legally, for enough hours that they can support themselves if conditions at home are intolerable, they can do the boring, unskilled jobs we are currently importing large numbers of unskilled, criminally inclined, leftwing voters from the Third World to do.

ETA: As if in answer to this post, today Gates of Vienna posted this:

An Ohio court today ordered that authorities monitor telephone and Internet use of Fatima Rifqa Bary, the 17-year-old religious runaway who left Columbus for Orlando over the summer.

The girl has yet to return from Florida.

At a dependency hearing today, both sides in the case agreed to continue the case until next month.

Her phone and Internet use will be monitored by Franklin County Children Services.

Rifqa Bary is an honor student who ran away because her father intended to execute her for converting from Islam to Christianity. Because she is 17, she was arrested for attempting to escape murder. I have read editorials by people pretending not to believe her father’s threats to kill her. Time Magazine claims that she was pressured by her church to tell the lie to make Muslims look bad – because, you know, Muslims never commit real honor killings, Christians have to make them up. The Orlando Sentinel, salivating at the happy prospect of getting a teenage girl killed, published a lying editorial claiming that her life was in no danger.

If she were a few months older, she would be in no danger of being dragged back at gunpoint to the man who wishes to murder her.

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Civilizational Suicide

Today I came across an article that sheds a little more light on how this happens.

Death of a Civilization

In the early nineteenth century, the British colonized Southeast Africa. The native Xhosa resisted, but suffered repeated and humiliating defeats at the hands of British military forces. The Xhosa lost their independence and their native land became an English colony. The British adopted a policy of westernizing the Xhosa. They were to be converted to Christianity, and their native culture and religion was to be wiped out. Under the stress of being confronted by a superior and irresistible technology, the Xhosa developed feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. In this climate, a prophet appeared.

In April of 1856, a fifteen-year-old girl named Nongqawuse heard a voice telling her that the Xhosa must kill all their cattle, stop cultivating their fields, and destroy their stores of grain and food. The voice insisted that the Xhosa must also get rid of their hoes, cooking pots, and every utensil necessary for the maintenance of life. Once these things were accomplished, a new day would magically dawn. Everything necessary for life would spring spontaneously from the earth. The dead would be resurrected. The blind would see and the old would have their youth restored. New food and livestock would appear in abundance, spontaneously sprouting from the earth. The British would be swept into the sea, and the Xhosa would be restored to their former glory. What was promised was nothing less than the establishment of paradise on earth.

Soon thousands of people were believers. They destroyed their means of production as directed. The date predicted for the miracle came and went.

The cattle-killing movement now began to enter a final, deadly phase, which its own internal logic dictated as inevitable. The failure of the prophecies was blamed on the fact that the cattle-killing had not been completed. Most believers had retained a few cattle, chiefly consisting of milk cows that provided an immediate and continuous food supply. Worse yet, there was a minority community of skeptical non-believers who refused to kill their livestock.

The fall planting season came and went. Believers threw their spades into the rivers and did not sow a single seed in the ground. By December of 1856, the Xhosa began to feel the pangs of hunger. They scoured the fields and woods for berries and roots, and attempted to eat bark stripped from trees. Mhlakaza set a new date of December 11 for the fulfillment of the prophecy. When the anticipated event did not occur, unbelievers were blamed.

Three-fourths of the Xhosa starved to death.

It’s easy to see how the “Under-Men” described by Lothrop Stoddard would despair at the hard work necessary to survive and maintain their culture under imperialism, and welcome the promise of an easier way. The parallels with today’s civilization destroyers are obvious.

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The Permanent Government

This will probably be familiar material to many of you, but it is relatively new to me. I am writing about this only because it is an important fact of which many of us have been kept ignorant.

Mencius Moldbug, as usual informing me about things that my professors should have but didn’t, refers often to the “permanent government”, that is, the civil service. It was an unfamiliar concept to me, so I rummaged around a bit to see what I could find out about it.

They never tell us about this in school. There they present us with a very simple and sensible-sounding procedure that must be gotten through before a new set of shackles can be slapped onto us. Like so much that we were told in school, it isn’t entirely true.

The permanent government is also known as the managerial state. “Theorists Samuel T. Francis and Paul Gottfried say this is an ongoing regime that remains in power, regardless of what political party holds a majority.” Its “power does not depend upon election results”.

The problem with this is that the alphabet soup of government agencies – the FDA, DEA, EPA, DOE, etc. etc. – takes a great deal of power onto itself. Many of the regulations they enforce were never passed by Congress. This means that no one who is answerable to the people was responsible for them. So much for the chief justification of democracy.

Here is an example of why this is a bad thing, in a blog post about British parents who were arrested for babysitting each other’s kids without registering with the government:

I’m not sure that the bureaucrats who drafted the abomination of a piece of legislation anticipated that some purse lipped curtain-twitcher could call state agents down upon a couple of friends looking after each other’s kids. I’m sure the civil servant who wrote it thought that he or she was engaged in a piece of important child-safety legislation. But these laws are so poorly drafted that some shiny-arse draws up guidelines for their implementation which, essentially, become law. And people whose circumstances are not anticipated by the aforementioned shiny-arse, get prosecuted by Ofstead.

Theoretically, Congress and the President could simply abolish these organizations, but I have never heard of even one of them doing so. Indeed, all Reagan did was slow down the increase in the number of civil servants, and yet its denizens still describe his administration as “traumatic”.

To an extent, the permanent government is necessary, but democracies have no remedy when it gets out of control. The only protection citizens have against it is a king who can simply send them all home, as Charles II did with Parliament.

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To a great extent, it seems that human nature has a fatal flaw which undermines every civilization we build. It does, but not the one we think.

The usual conservative theory goes, humans labor for generations to create prosperity, to invent technologies that make our lives easier, to gain a measure of safety for ourselves. The first generation to reap the benefit of all this effort grows up spoiled, thinks it can do whatever it wants, and destroys all that the last several generations have built.

I don’t think that’s how it works.

As civilization advances, it can support more parasites. There is no other way to put it. There was no enormous government bureaucracy in the medieval era, because the farms and industries couldn’t have supported one. Universities used to be populated solely by the sons of the aristocracy, because no one else could afford to have grown sons be idle for that long; everyone else needed their sons to be working and contributing. It required a lot of prosperity for a majority of people to send both sons and daughters for years of indoctrination. Indeed, a century ago, many children only went to school for a couple of years, enough to learn reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, before returning to work in a farm or factory. It is not a higher level of enlightenment which has made it possible for the government to force all children to spend their entire lives listening to lectures. Doubtless governments of previous generations would have enjoyed the opportunity for such indoctrination, but very few parents could afford to support children who weren’t working at all for that many years. Compulsory education is a modern luxury: “While there were compulsory school laws starting in 1852, they were rarely enforced until the late 19th century in cities and generally were not enforced at a certain age until the majority of children were attending voluntarily.”

A comment I made a few weeks ago:

Harsh working conditions were a fact of life from time immemorial. The sad fact is that without advanced technology, there was no other way for civilization to progress. Monumental architecture, mining, trade with other lands (in ships powered by galley slaves), enough agriculture to support a more leisured class that can create works of art or scientific advances – these things require a lot of labor, and for most of history that labor had to be more or less forced.

The Industrial Revolution changed this, but not immediately. At first, labor conditions remained as they always had been: horrible. But as the technology continued to advance, working conditions improved because human muscles were no longer the only form of power and because society in general became wealthier. Progressives love to dwell on the unpleasant conditions in many factories, but the fact is that it still increased the standard of living and the population.

In a nutshell, working conditions improved, not as the result of any unions or political maneuverings, but because more advanced technology and the attendant wealth made it possible for them to improve. Suppose someone had petitioned a king, centuries ago, to pass laws limiting the shifts which galley slaves had to work, or improving the lot of the serfs who did the farming. Little improvement would have been made, because there was no way for society to survive without working these people half to death.

In one of my posts on this blog, I mentioned an article in which some conceited journalist declared that without the noble crusades of earlier journalists, children would still be sweeping out chimneys – very unpleasant and sometimes dangerous work which was assigned to children because they were small enough to fit in the chimneys. I wish I could have asked this journalist, “Who cleans out your chimney?” He probably doesn’t even have one. Why? Because smart men invented the electric stove and central heating. Journalists posturing heroically, parading their compassion for the unfortunate, had nothing to do with it.

Basically, improved technology made improved working conditions affordable. It also created enough of a monetary surplus to support a parasite class, the unions, which extort money from the actual workers and entrepreneurs in return for generating a great deal of publicity in which they claim the credit for these benefits of technology.

One especially glaring example of labor unions claiming credit for the achievements of others is a bumper sticker I see occasionally: “The Labor Movement: The folks who brought you the weekend.” The “weekend” was brought to the world by the Jews, with our commandment to rest on one day out of seven. If you read the Torah, you will see that not only can we not work, we also are not permitted to make our gentile servants or even our animals work. (My cat was deeply relieved to learn that he would never have to work on Saturday. However, since cats can’t read calendars, he rests every day, just to be on the safe side.) This was not a normal part of life before that; the Greeks and Romans both insisted that the Jews would never amount to anything because we idled a seventh of our lives away. Until the last century, Christians took the day of rest very seriously as well. Even medieval serfs and antebellum slaves had one day off every week. The “weekend” – the idea that everyone deserves two days to himself for every five on which he contributes to society – is just an extension of the original idea of the Sabbath. And the doubling of the weekly days of rest might actually have come about because Jewish immigrants to America wanted to be able to not work on our Sabbath, rather than on that of the gentiles.

The best references I know for this are:
Hugh Cunningham, “The Employment and Unemployment of Children in England c.1680-1851.” Past and Present. Feb., 1990
Murray Rothbard, Down With Primitivism: A Thorough Critique of Polanyi Ludwig Von Mises Institute, reprint of June 1961 article
DeGregori, Thomas R., “Child Labor or Child Prostitution?” Cato Institute
Ayn Rand’s The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

Months ago I quoted The Revolt Against Civilization by Lothrop Stoddard.

And this answer is that, in the last analysis, civilization always depends upon the qualities of the people who are the bearers of it. All these vast accumulations of instruments and ideas, massed and welded into marvelous structures rising harmoniously in glittering majesty, rest upon living foundations — upon the men and women who create and sustain them. So long as those men and women are able to support it, the structure rises, broad-based and serene; but let the living foundations prove unequal to the task, and the mightiest civilization sags, cracks, and at last crashes down into chaotic ruin.
Civilization thus depends absolutely upon the quality of its human supporters.

This fact is that, while hereditary qualities are implanted in the individual with no action on his part, social acquirements are taken over only at the cost of distinct effort. How great this effort may become is easily seen by the long years of strenuous mental labor required in modern youth to assimilate the knowledge already gained by adults. That old saying, “There is no royal road to learning,” illustrates the hard fact that each successive generation must tread the same thorny path if the acquirements of the past are to be retained. Of course, it is obvious that the more acquirements increase, the longer and steeper the path must be. And this raises the query: May there not come a point where the youthful traveller will be unable to scale the height — where the effort required will be beyond his powers?
Well, this is precisely what has happened numberless times in the past. It is happening to multitudes of individuals about us every day.

Now, among our human categories we have observed that progress is primarily due to the superiors. It is they who found and further civilizations. As for the intermediate mass, it accepts the achievements of its creative pioneers. Its attitude is receptive. This receptivity is due to the fact that most of the intermediate grades are near enough to the superiors to understand and assimilate what the superiors have initiated.
But what about the inferiors? Hitherto we have not analyzed their attitude. We have seen that they are incapable of either creating of furthering civilization, and are thus a negative hindrance to progress. But the inferiors are not mere negative factors in civilized life; they are also positive — in an inverse, destructive sense. The inferior elements are, instinctively or consciously, the enemies of civilization. And they are its enemies, not by chance, but because they are more or less uncivilizable.

The word inferior has, however, been so often employed as a synonym for degenerate that it tends to produce confusion of thought, and to avoid this I have coined a term which seems to describe collectively all those kinds of persons whom I have just discussed. This term is The Under-Man – the man who measures under the standards of capacity and adaptability imposed by the social order in which he lives. And this term I shall henceforth employ.
Now how does the Under-Man look at civilization? This civilization offers him few benefits and fewer hopes. It usually affords him little beyond a meagre subsistence. And, sooner or later, he instinctively senses that he is a failure; that civilization’s prizes are not for him. But this civilization, which withholds benefits, does not hesitate to impose burdens. We have previously stated that civilization’s heaviest burdens are borne by the superior. Absolutely, this is true; relatively the Under-Man’s intrinsically lighter burdens feel heavier because of his innate incapacity. The very discipline of the social order oppresses the Under-Man; it thwarts and chastises him at every turn. To wild natures society is a torment, while the congenital caveman, placed in civilization, is always in trouble and usually in jail.

Such is the Under-Man’s unhappy lot. Now, what is his attitude toward that civilization from which he has so little to hope? What but instinctive opposition and discontent? These feelings, of course, vary all the way from dull, unreasoning dislike to flaming hatred and rebellion. But, in the last analysis, they are directed not merely against imperfections in the social order, but against the social order itself. This is a point which is rarely mentioned, and still more rarely understood. Yet it is the meat of the whole matter. We must realize clearly that the basic attitude of the Under-Man is an instinctive and natural revolt against civilization. The reform of abuses may diminish the intensity of social discontent.

Lastly, there is the “misguided superior.” He is a strange phenomenon! Placed by nature in the van of civilization, he goes over to its enemies. This seems inexplicable. Yet it can be explained. As the Under-Man revolts because civilization is so far ahead of him, so the misguided superior revolts because it is so far behind. Exasperated by its slow progress, shocked at its faults, and erroneously ascribing to mankind in general his own lofty impulses, the misguided superior dreams short cuts to the millennium and joins the forces of social revolt, not realizing that their ends are profoundly different even though their methods may be somewhat the same. The misguided superior is probably the most pathetic figure in human history. Flattered by designing scoundrels, used to sanctify sinister schemes, and pushed forward as a figurehead during the early stages of revolutionary agitation, the triumph of the revolution brings him to a tragic end. Horrified at sight of barbarism’s unmasked face, he tries to stay its destructive course. In vain! The Under-Man turns upon his former champion with a snarl and tramples him into the mud.

The people who are inclined to be parasites get born all the time. In less prosperous eras, they reluctantly do the minimum of work they could get away with, or be petty criminals or beggars, or simply die out. But when society is prosperous enough to support them, they increase and prove that they can be very creative in one area at least: that of thinking up things that they can compell the productive to pay them to do.

The problem is not so much in their leeching. That is annoying, but with advanced technology, we can provide for them. Indeed, usually all we ask to is to be left in peace to do so.

No, the problem is in their envy. The problem is not that they steal from us, but that they destroy us. A wise parasite does not murder its host, but that is precisely what they are doing. Not satisfied with stealing the fruits of our labor, they also demand the license to destroy us. They hamper us so much with excessive regulation that soon there is little left to loot. They steal so much of our money to support shiftless aliens that we cannot afford to support children of our own. They strive to deprive us of innocent pleasures. They destroy our reputations with spurious charges of “racism”. Every one of our children is turned over, at gunpoint if necessary, to the vilest members of our society for the express purpose of having their minds destroyed. Natural parasites have no trouble in brainwashing camp. Those who can be trained to be such similarly thrive. But those who have too much innate decency as well as too much ability to be made useless are trapped in the merciless clutches of harridans driven by hatred of their betters, with an unparalleled opportunity to avenge themselves on their superiors before those superiors are able to defend themselves.

It is not that prosperous advanced civilizations give otherwise decent people the leeway to turn to destructive self-indulgence. We are as conscientious as we have ever been. It is that it supports enough of the evil that they can propagate themselves and do on a grand scale what in most eras they can only do on a trivial level.

I have no effective solution to propose.

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In his most recent post, Mencius Moldbug quoted Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man Under Socialism. It is such an unabashed revelation of the progressive mind that one paragraph in I began wondering if it were a satire, but apparently it was not. If we wish to know what is going on in the minds of these bizarre creatures, one of their own has told us quite clearly.

The chief advantage that would result from the establishment of Socialism is, undoubtedly, the fact that Socialism would relieve us from that sordid necessity of living for others which, in the present condition of things, presses so hardly upon almost everybody. In fact, scarcely anyone at all escapes.

Now and then, in the course of the century, a great man of science, like Darwin; a great poet, like Keats; a fine critical spirit, like M. Renan; a supreme artist, like Flaubert, has been able to isolate himself, to keep himself out of reach of the clamorous claims of others, to stand ‘under the shelter of the wall,’ as Plato puts it, and so to realise the perfection of what was in him, to his own incomparable gain, and to the incomparable and lasting gain of the whole world.

Of course, in practice socialism has never done any such thing, but we all knew that. What I wish to draw attention to is the stunning narcissism of that second paragraph. Life, it seems, is about escaping all obligations to one’s fellow man so as to realize “the perfection of what was in him”. Less than a century after these words were written, people were abandoning their spouses and children, in some cases to destitution, so that they might realize the perfection of what was in them. Meanwhile, the rest of us were forced to endure the large and small crimes committed by their children, whose parents were too busy realizing the perfection of what was in them to civilize their children. The victims of the spawn of these perfected ones had no chance to realize the perfection of whatever was in them; they were and are too busy guarding against murder, robbery, deception, etc.

This is only the most obvious example of the social pathologies spawned by people who believe that they have a perfection in themselves that they ought to realize, never mind the cost to others. Fill in your own.

They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this…. Accordingly, with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.

A couple of years ago, headlines were made by the unsurprising discovery that conservatives donate more money, time and blood to charity than do liberals. This is partly because liberals believe that the way to perform charity is to elect politicians who will steal money from everyone and give it to the objects of the liberals’ pity. They believe that when they vote or watch CNN, they have done their charity work.

There is also this to be said. It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property. It is both immoral and unfair.

Alleviating suffering is wrong, because it makes life bearable for people so that they don’t overthrow society. This theory was also subscribed to by the now mostly defunct Sendero Luminoso, a Peruvian terrorist organization which destroyed power plants, shopping centers, and other features of infrastructure, killing numerous civilians in the process, with the intention of making life so miserable for the proletariat that he would awaken from his slumber and create a worker’s paradise.

Under Socialism all this will, of course, be altered. There will be no people living in fetid dens and fetid rags, and bringing up unhealthy, hunger-pinched children in the midst of impossible and absolutely repulsive surroundings. The security of society will not depend, as it does now, on the state of the weather. If a frost comes we shall not have a hundred thousand men out of work, tramping about the streets in a state of disgusting misery, or whining to their neighbours for alms, or crowding round the doors of loathsome shelters to try and secure a hunch of bread and a night’s unclean lodging. Each member of the society will share in the general prosperity and happiness of the society, and if a frost comes no one will practically be anything the worse.

It’s enough to make you weep.

Upon the other hand, Socialism itself will be of value simply because it will lead to Individualism.

I suspect that progressives believe that “individualism” is a synonym for “narcissism”. (This, by the way, is why you will occasionally stumble across liberals who admire the novels of Ayn Rand. They ignore the parts of Objectivism they don’t like, such as capitalism and logic, because of what does appeal to them: her glorification of the ego. To be sure, an Ayn Rand hero must earn his arrogance with strict adherence to very high standards, but liberals manage to block that out and only bask in what they see as an endorsement of their narcissism.)

At present, in consequence of the existence of private property, a great many people are enabled to develop a certain very limited amount of Individualism. They are either under no necessity to work for their living, or are enabled to choose the sphere of activity that is really congenial to them, and gives them pleasure. These are the poets, the philosophers, the men of science, the men of culture – in a word, the real men, the men who have realised themselves, and in whom all Humanity gains a partial realisation.

I once read a feminist thinker saying that until the Twentieth Century, only men had the option of being “fully human”. (As a small tangent, allow me to point out that only a tiny handful of men had this option either. During the lifetime of Leonardo da Vinci, undoubtedly a “full human”, all but perhaps one or two thousand of the other men then living were illiterate and spending their lives in grueling manual labor.) This seems to be a common attitude among progressives: that only a person who is “self-actualized” counts as a real human being, while those who are stuck doing boring jobs or who do not plumb the depths of their inner world are less than human. This makes it permissible for a progressive elite to overrule their wishes in how their society is to be run; after all, what do people who are less than human know about building a utopia? It also allows them to dismiss the deaths of those murdered by the permanent criminal class spawned by progressive policies or the victims of communist famines; those people aren’t fully human anyway, so their deaths don’t really matter. And of course, no fetus has attained self-actualization, so pre-emptively preventing it from doing so is quite permissible.

The possession of private property is very often extremely demoralising, and that is, of course, one of the reasons why Socialism wants to get rid of the institution. In fact, property is really a nuisance. Some years ago people went about the country saying that property has duties. They said it so often and so tediously that, at last, the Church has begun to say it. One hears it now from every pulpit. It is perfectly true. Property not merely has duties, but has so many duties that its possession to any large extent is a bore. It involves endless claims upon one, endless attention to business, endless bother. If property had simply pleasures, we could stand it; but its duties make it unbearable. In the interest of the rich we must get rid of it.

How thoughtful of you.

As for begging, it is safer to beg than to take, but it is finer to take than to beg. No: a poor man who is ungrateful, unthrifty, discontented, and rebellious, is probably a real personality, and has much in him. He is at any rate a healthy protest. As for the virtuous poor, one can pity them, of course, but one cannot possibly admire them. They have made private terms with the enemy, and sold their birthright for very bad pottage. They must also be extraordinarily stupid.

Another mass of toxic progressive assumptions: criminals and lesser delinquents are heroic rebels against a vaguely defined injustice, and the poor are so stupid that if they are virtuous, they have been fooled into being so to their detriment. I submit that the Victorians, who regarded poor people as responsible moral agents capable of self-control and of distinguishing between right and wrong, had more respect for them that Mr. Wilde and his intellectual descendants.

Misery and poverty are so absolutely degrading, and exercise such a paralysing effect over the nature of men, that no class is ever really conscious of its own suffering. They have to be told of it by other people, and they often entirely disbelieve them. What is said by great employers of labour against agitators is unquestionably true. Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community, and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilisation.

You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. And by “eggs”, of course, I mean “millions of human lives”.

It is clear, then, that no Authoritarian Socialism will do.

Every single real-life experiment in socialism has been authoritarian. Many very smart people have detailed the reasons that the nature of socialism makes any other path impossible, even with the best of intentions. Yet more than a century and hundreds of millions of deaths later, progressives still trot out the claim that all previous experiments are not real socialism, and as soon as we get real socialism it will be wonderful. Most of us, having accepted that we live in a world made of mud and dross and not in Plato’s realm of ideal forms, prefer systems which, even when imperfectly implemented, still make a great deal more human contentment possible than any other system ever tried. That is, capitalism with monarchy, or, if one is living in a benighted country which has been deprived of its rightful sovereign, a republic in its early stages.

Every man must be left quite free to choose his own work. No form of compulsion must be exercised over him. If there is, his work will not be good for him, will not be good in itself, and will not be good for others. And by work I simply mean activity of any kind.

There we have the progressive deification of choice and authenticity. The former is absurd; we get to choose very little about anything. I did not choose to be white, female, American, a loner, a bookworm, an excellent speller, a terrible singer – unless we believe those New Agers who claim that before every incarnation, we “choose” what “lessons” we wish to learn in this lifetime. Further, civilizations advance on the premise that people must be held to certain obligations, whether we wish it or not. Having, for example, married and had children, we must fulfill our obligations to the family we have created even when we get bored with it, even when we meet someone else more attractive, and so on. This is not only beneficial to them, it creates emotional satisfactions for ourselves that may take decades to fully realize. Genuine education is another example. In the days before governments assumed the right to indoctrinate all of their citizens, it was parents who compelled their children to attend school – and in those days, difficult as it is to imagine now, schools were places where children actually learned things. A young child being dragged to his first day of learning his letters could not have anticipated the rewards of, a dozen years later, reading the satires of Aristophanes, and he would not have chosen to commit himself to years of labor to reach that goal. There are very important limits on this; a man whose wife is committing rampant adultery and neglecting their children should not be expected to honor his vows to her. But the wife made the choice, of her own free will, to flout her obligations. According to Wilde, it would not be good for anyone to “compel” her to refrain from betraying her husband or ignoring her children; what matters is that she has made a free choice. And that is the principle which has not only become socially acceptable, but enshrined in law.

As for the notion that only deeds which are heartfelt and spring from the purest of motives are at all good for anyone, let me give a couple of examples. When my maternal grandfather was in his final illness, I visited him frequently. He seemed to enjoy seeing me, and others claimed that his spirits were raised after my visits (as well as those of other relatives). My motives in visiting him were hardly shining examples of a saintly nature. I had never been particularly close to him. We never had much communication. My grandmother loved him, but I know that he behaved, on a couple of occasions, most reprehensibly towards her. My mother also told me numerous lurid stories of how he viciously abused her when she was a child. I have no idea if any of the stories are true, but if they are, then he inspired her subsequent abuse of me. It is possible that I have a lifetime of misery to thank him for.

However, there is also my grandmother to consider. My grandmother is the kindest person I have ever met. What affection I had during my childhood I owe completely to her. It is possible she could only cope with her husband’s abuse of their daughter the same way she coped with her daughter’s abuse of her granddaughter: by blocking it from her mind. Having plenty of weaknesses of my own, I can hardly hold weakness against her. Whatever my grandfather’s faults, she loved him, and it pleased her that I visited him so diligently and sent him cards so frequently.

Out of a dreary sense of duty and of residual childhood affection for the only adult I knew who was kind to me, I went through the very tedious and sometimes unpleasant motions of making two elderly people happy, one of whom deserved it and the other of whom might have deserved it.

My second example: movie stars and pop singers frequently use their celebrity to attract donations to feed the starving or give medicine to sick people too poor to pay themselves. Does anyone believe that their motives are purely altruistic? Don’t most of you think that probably these puffy-lipped egomaniacs just like the attention they get for telling everyone how compassionate they are? But this nasty motive nonetheless gets donations made to relieve human suffering. Do you think the people whose lives are saved by these donations give a fig for the motives responsible?

I hardly think that any Socialist, nowadays, would seriously propose that an inspector should call every morning at each house to see that each citizen rose up and did manual labour for eight hours. Humanity has got beyond that stage, and reserves such a form of life for the people whom, in a very arbitrary manner, it chooses to call criminals.

Has it indeed? Just how did Mr. Wilde imagine that the food and clothing and shelter he used came about? Did he believe that the laborers in the bookbinding factories that produced the volumes he enjoyed reading were in those factories because it fulfilled them? Did he imagine such might be the case in the future?

It is true that, under existing conditions, a few men who have had private means of their own, such as Byron, Shelley, Browning, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, and others, have been able to realise their personality more or less completely. Not one of these men ever did a single day’s work for hire. They were relieved from poverty. They had an immense advantage.

We now have a great many people with a similarly immense advantage, called “welfare recipients”. I am waiting for one of them to produce a Les Miserables any day now.

Now, nothing should be able to harm a man except himself. Nothing should be able to rob a man at all. What a man really has, is what is in him. What is outside of him should be a matter of no importance.

Perhaps it should. Take it up with God; I hear He has a suggestion box. Until such is the state of affairs, kindly do not destroy what little security we have.

One will live. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

Again, the progressive contempt for those whose lives they consider insufficiently fulfilling. Certainly to me, the life of a cashier who spends his weekends watching ball games at the local bar & grill seems intolerably unsatisfying. However, I suspect that if I were to ask him about it, he would prove to be greatly attached to that empty existence. Possibly he even enjoys it. In any case, it is not up to me to wreck his life and that of everyone else to force him into a life I consider better.

It is a question whether we have ever seen the full expression of a personality, except on the imaginative plane of art. In action, we never have…. What I mean by a perfect man is one who develops under perfect conditions; one who is not wounded, or worried or maimed, or in danger. Most personalities have been obliged to be rebels. Half their strength has been wasted in friction…. It will be a marvellous thing – the true personality of man – when we see it. It will grow naturally and simply, flowerlike, or as a tree grows. It will not be at discord. It will never argue or dispute. It will not prove things. It will know everything. And yet it will not busy itself about knowledge. It will have wisdom. Its value will not be measured by material things. It will have nothing. And yet it will have everything, and whatever one takes from it, it will still have, so rich will it be. It will not be always meddling with others, or asking them to be like itself. It will love them because they will be different. And yet while it will not meddle with others, it will help all, as a beautiful thing helps us, by being what it is. The personality of man will be very wonderful. It will be as wonderful as the personality of a child.

Point out to a progressive the masses of historical evidence that their schemes will lead only to horror, and they insist that their particular innovations will cause human nature to fundamentally change, that the newest scheme will have results that we cannot even imagine, but which, they are certain without the slightest evidence, shall be wonderful. Allow me to counter with a quotation from G. K. Chesterton:

What we need is to have a culture before we hand it down. In other words, it is a truth, however sad and strange, that we cannot give what we have not got, and cannot teach to other people what we do not know ourselves.

In the next passage, Mr. Wilde proceeds to tell us what Jesus really meant. In nearly two thousand years, it seems, Mr. Wilde was the first person to understand Jesus. And what Jesus meant, Mr. Wilde reveals, was that all of us should give up property and be ourselves.

Socialism annihilates family life, for instance. With the abolition of private property, marriage in its present form must disappear. This is part of the programme. Individualism accepts this and makes it fine. It converts the abolition of legal restraint into a form of freedom that will help the full development of personality, and make the love of man and woman more wonderful, more beautiful, and more ennobling.

Visit this site to get an idea of how wonderful, beautiful, ennobling, and helpful in the full development of personality the erosion of marriage has been.

Incidentally, the Soviet Union at first discouraged marriage and family. Very soon the crime rate was rampant and the work force far too undisciplined to do the work. The commissars sacrificed some of their ideology and started instead encouraging strong marriages that were difficult to get out of and made people raise their children. The crime rate fell and the work force was functional once more. Western progressives ignored this as carefully as they ignored everything else about the USSR.

All imitation in morals and in life is wrong…. People, in that case, are less conscious of the horrible pressure that is being put on them, and so go through their lives in a sort of coarse comfort, like petted animals, without ever realising that they are probably thinking other people’s thoughts, living by other people’s standards, wearing practically what one may call other people’s second-hand clothes, and never being themselves for a single moment.

Oh, the horror.

With authority, punishment will pass away. This will be a great gain – a gain, in fact, of incalculable value. As one reads history, not in the expurgated editions written for school-boys and passmen, but in the original authorities of each time, one is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted; and a community is infinitely more brutalised by the habitual employment of punishment, than it is by the occurrence of crime. It obviously follows that the more punishment is inflicted the more crime is produced, and most modern legislation has clearly recognised this, and has made it its task to diminish punishment as far as it thinks it can. Wherever it has really diminished it, the results have always been extremely good. The less punishment, the less crime.

Progressives still believe this. The policies this principle have inspired has caused the crime rate throughout the West to explode.

There is nothing necessarily dignified about manual labour at all, and most of it is absolutely degrading. It is mentally and morally injurious to man to do anything in which he does not find pleasure, and many forms of labour are quite pleasureless activities, and should be regarded as such. To sweep a slushy crossing for eight hours, on a day when the east wind is blowing is a disgusting occupation. To sweep it with mental, moral, or physical dignity seems to me to be impossible. To sweep it with joy would be appalling. Man is made for something better than disturbing dirt. All work of that kind should be done by a machine.

Here Mr. Wilde has actually hit on something. It is only technological advance – not progressive crusades – which has made the lot of the lower classes more bearable. But he has no understanding that machines do not invent themselves. And now, over a century later, there is still a great deal of manual labor to be done. I have a vacuum cleaner and a dishwasher, but I must pick up everything off the floor and then push the cleaner around with my own hands, and my dishes stubbornly refuse to rinse themselves off, put themselves into the washer, and then put themselves back on the shelves.

In England, the arts that have escaped best are the arts in which the public take no interest. Poetry is an instance of what I mean. We have been able to have fine poetry in England because the public do not read it, and consequently do not influence it. The public like to insult poets because they are individual, but once they have insulted them, they leave them alone. In the case of the novel and the drama, arts in which the public do take an interest, the result of the exercise of popular authority has been absolutely ridiculous. No country produces such badly-written fiction, such tedious, common work in the novel form, such silly, vulgar plays as England. It must necessarily be so. The popular standard is of such a character that no artist can get to it.

Progressives still despise any art which normal people can enjoy. This leads often to grotesquely amusing spectacles, such as galleries full of college graduates talking seriously about the deep insights they see in the piles of randomly assembled chunks of wood being presented to them as “sculpture”. “Art films” are another symptom of this mentality. In fact, unpopular art is created by inept people who are too incompetent to learn to draw a horse that actually looks like a horse or write a story where the events progress naturally from each other and make you care about them.

I consider myself a misanthrope, but here is a key difference between a misanthrope and a progressive: the misanthrope accepts that the mass of men have nothing in common with him. He may make sarcastic remarks about the bad taste and stupidity of his fellow beings, but all he really wants is to be left alone, not forced to endure the company of people who voluntarily watch Friends and then talk about it. The progressive wishes to lift everyone else up to his level, at gunpoint if necessary, whether they like it or not. And despite his blathering about how no force must be used to compel anyone to do anything, Mr. Wilde admits it:

Indeed, there is much more to be said in favour of the physical force of the public than there is in favour of the public’s opinion. The former may be fine. The latter must be foolish. It is often said that force is no argument. That, however, entirely depends on what one wants to prove. Many of the most important problems of the last few centuries, such as the continuance of personal government in England, or of feudalism in France, have been solved entirely by means of physical force. The very violence of a revolution may make the public grand and splendid for a moment. It was a fatal day when the public discovered that the pen is mightier than the paving-stone, and can be made as offensive as the brickbat. They at once sought for the journalist, found him, developed him, and made him their industrious and well-paid servant. It is greatly to be regretted, for both their sakes. Behind the barricade there may be much that is noble and heroic. But what is there behind the leading-article but prejudice, stupidity, cant, and twaddle? And when these four are joined together they make a terrible force, and constitute the new authority.

In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs for ever and ever. Fortunately in America Journalism has carried its authority to the grossest and most brutal extreme. As a natural consequence it has begun to create a spirit of revolt. People are amused by it, or disgusted by it, according to their temperaments. But it is no longer the real force it was. It is not seriously treated.

This reminds me of the old science fiction authors who expected that by the Twenty-First Century we would have colonies on the moon and flying cars.

It will, of course, be said that such a scheme as is set forth here is quite unpractical, and goes against human nature. This is perfectly true. It is unpractical, and it goes against human nature. This is why it is worth carrying out, and that is why one proposes it. For what is a practical scheme? A practical scheme is either a scheme that is already in existence, or a scheme that could be carried out under existing conditions. But it is exactly the existing conditions that one objects to; and any scheme that could accept these conditions is wrong and foolish. The conditions will be done away with, and human nature will change. The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it. The systems that fail are those that rely on the permanency of human nature, and not on its growth and development.

Only, human nature has been permanent for several thousand years now. All attempts to change it have failed completely. Why are we to believe that this time, things will be different?

And so Individualism exercises no compulsion over man. On the contrary, it says to man that he should suffer no compulsion to be exercised over him. It does not try to force people to be good. It knows that people are good when they are let alone.

Let alone so that the light of their inner goodness can shine through. Mr. Wilde was probably something of a loner – most artists are. Too many of us make the mistake of believing that our personal preference for solitude is a sign of our moral superiority. It isn’t, it is a matter of our temperament and cannot be learned. Nor is there any particular reason that it should be. If God had wanted us to be a species of loners, He would have derived us from cats, not apes.

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I have said, many times, that our current cultural degeneracy is historically unique.

Turns out I just didn’t go far enough back.

And, of course, if you aren’t a professional historian, you’re dependent on the interpretations of others, and past instances of pathological decline like the one we are experiencing today are apt to be described by modern authors in complimentary terms that obscure what was actually going on.

My first example comes from the Sassanid Empire:

Mazdak is sometimes described as a “reformer.” In reality, he was a cultural revolutionary. Active at the turn of the 6th century, Mazdak preached the virtues of pacifism, though his followers often took part in riots where they’d kill lots of people they didn’t like. And like most “highly evolved” people, Mazdak was a vegetarian. He wore various forms of hair shirts, looking like a slob being seen as a sign of dignity in his faith. His faith also required the total abolition of private property. Mazdak, despite being a sort of priest, was a radical anti-clerical type. His ire was against the dominant Zoroastrian religion of Persia. He managed to have most of the fire temples closed; in this, he was even more effective against the powerful Zoroastrian clerics than the Bolsheviks were against Russian Orthodoxy. Mazdak opened the state granaries to the people so they didn’t have to work: these were store houses against disaster or for military uses. Mazdak even required sexual ethics much like those presently known as Polyamory. Yes, Mazdak was all for free love—especially for himself. At one point, Kavadh I, the soft-hearted (to say nothing of soft-headed) king who allowed this highly evolved nincompoop to ruin his country, was even going to have a go at wife swapping with Mazdak.

Source: The Dawn of Decadence. The author goes on to give a couple more examples from history.

Men build civilization and men tear it down. They build it by intention, exertion, and discipline, under an image of order. They tear it down by acts of casual omission as much as by acts of concupiscent aggression and destruction. Omission and aggression can operate in synchronization to destroy a society. Civilization indeed carries with it many of the causes of its own gradual declension. In the achievement of widespread and sustained security, for example, the likelihood that the beneficiary generation will fail to appreciate the formative insights of the benefactor generation runs high. Complacency results. The beneficiary generation then fails in the obligation to maintain the basis of security, institutional, economic, military or otherwise. It can embrace novel “theories” that titillate through being exotic in their vocabulary and counterintuitive in their implications and which, being incompatible with received lore, undermine that lore and weaken the cultural health. The society is too busy “having fun” to reflect on its situation. In the succession of the beneficiary generation, once again, an Oedipal contempt for the benefactor generation can develop, which seriously distorts the concept of reality of the beneficiaries.

What the End of Bronze-Age Civilization means for Modern Times

I might take more bleak satisfaction in the knowledge that the evil regime which now has the West by the throat will come to an end, except that this time, it is likelier to be far worse than barbarians sacking Rome. This time, the barbarians will have nukes. And biological weapons. And who knows what else. Civilizations have collapsed many times in human history, but this time, the entire species might go down with it.

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