Quotulatiousness

January 6, 2017

QotD: The “Seven Bad Ideas” of the left

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The cult of darkness variously known as Leftists, Liberals, Progressives, Brights, Socialists, Pinkos, Late Moderns, Collectivists, Traitors, is controlled by a Seven Bad Ideas around which their various emotions and interjections orbit.

The Seven Bad Ideas are:

  • Solipsism — the paradox that asserts that truth is personal, hence optional: “It is not true that truth is true.”
  • Relativism — the paradox that asserts that virtue is subjective, situational, relative: “It is wrong for you to judge right and wrong.”
  • Subjectivism — the paradox that asserts that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As if putting a urinal in an Art Museum, and betraying the standard somehow proves the standard wrong, not the betrayal.
  • Irrationalism — the paradox that asserts reason is untrustworthy. Each man’s reason is too biased by upbringing, class self interest, sex, race, and background such that no one, aside from members of a given race and sex and victim group, can be expected to understand or advise other members of the victim group. Of course, reaching this conclusion from that premise is itself an act of reasoning, requiring the reasoner to trust his reason, despite the background and race and sex of the reasoner.
  • Pervertarianism — the paradox that asserts it to be licit to seek the gratifications of sexual union of the reproductive act without the union, without the reproduction, and, in the case of sodomites, without the act. The same insane paradox asserts that females should be feminists rather than feminine; and that sexual predation is more romantic than romance.
  • Totalitarianism — the paradox that asserts that freedom is slavery, war is peace, ignorance is strength. The Constitution is a living, breathing document, ergo it must be smothered and killed.
  • Nihilism — the paradox of that the meaning of life is that it has no innate meaning.

No claim is being made that all Leftists believe all these things. They have their heterodoxies, as any heresy does. The claim is that about these seven core ideas most or all leftist ideas inch near and orbit near. They may throw up trivial distinctions or exceptions, but the overwhelming majority of Leftwing commentary follows these main lines of thought.

A Leftist who says he does not believe one of these seven will nonetheless speak of it with respect. A man who denies all seven is not a Leftist. Most Leftists are remarkably stupid people, unwilling to examine their own axioms, unaware of their own premises, and illiterate of their own founding doctrines and patrons.

No proof is being offered here that Leftists believe these ideas or make these assertions. The reader can discover that for himself, merely by listening to them talk, reading their works, and reaching his own conclusion.

If you cannot see it by reading what they say, you will not see it by my repeating what they say. Look for yourself.

John C. Wright, “The Hatreds of the Left”, John C. Wright’s Journal, 2015-06-12.

January 5, 2017

Thomas Sowell

Filed under: Economics, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

David Warren on the recently announced retirement of economist Thomas Sowell:

Born in the rural poverty of North Carolina, raised in Harlem, he remained personally acquainted with the fate of his race. A disciplined and unexciteable controversialist, he rose closest to exhibiting passion when discussing, for instance, the destruction of the black family by the Great Society of Lyndon Baines Johnson — how it arrested the social and economic advancement blacks had been making by their own efforts to overcome the monstrous history of slavery. By its “helping hand” the government rewarded unwed motherhood, punished enterprise, and promoted crime. In addition to family, it undermined religion, and finally helped install the abortion mills which disproportionally reduce the black population. And all of this by legislation drumrolled from the start with pseudo-Christian moral posturing.

Sowell could understand this through the economic analysis of moral hazard. Reward people for making irresponsible life choices, for discarding prudence and embracing victimhood and dependency — the result may be predicted. The question whether the policies were the product of invincible stupidity or demonic inspiration is moot: for stupidity is among the devil’s excavating tools. He is a master policy analyst, to whom men are merely statistics to be crunched; and to the stupid man he proposes the job-ready shovel, by which to dig his own grave.

December 10, 2016

ESR spelunks the alt-right

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

ESR has been busy with absorbing technical projects, so he’s not blogging as frequently as he used to. Here’s his take on the alt-right phenomenon:

First, while I’m not entirely sure of everything the alt-right is (it’s a rather amorphous phenomenon) it is not the KKK and neo-Nazis. The most that can truthfully be said is that ‘alt-right’ serves as a recent flag of convenience to which some old-fashioned white supremacists are busily trying to attach themselves.

Also, the alt-right is not Donald Trump and his Trumpkins, either. He’s an equally old-fashioned populist continuous with William Jennings Bryan and Huey Long. If you tossed a bunch of alt-right memes at him, I doubt he’d even understand them, let alone agree.

The defining characteristic of the alt-right is, really, corrosive snarkiness. To the extent an origin can be identified, it was as as a series of message-board pranks on 4chan. There’s no actual ideological core to it – it’s a kind of oppositional attitude-copping without a program, mordantly nasty but unserious.

There’s also some weird occultism attached – the half-serious cult of KEK, aka Pepe, who may or may not be an ancient Egyptian frog-god who speaks to his followers via numerological coincidences. (Donald Trump really wouldn’t get that part.)

Some elements of the alt-right are in fact racist (and misogynist, and homophobic, and other bad words) a la KKK/Nazi, but that’s not a defining characteristic and it’s anyway difficult to tell the genuine haters from those for whom posing as haters is a form of what 4chan types call “griefing”. That’s social disruption for the hell of it.

It is worth noting that another part of what is going on here is a visceral rejection of politically-correct leftism, one which deliberately inverts its premises. The griefers pose as racists and misogynists because they think it’s the most oppositional stance they can take to bullies and rage-mobbers who position themselves as anti-racists and feminists.

My sense is that the true haters are a tiny minority compared to the griefers and anti-PC rejectionists, but the griefers are entertained by others’ confusion on this score and don’t intend to clear it up.

As has been pointed out many times, the habit of all too many on the left to describe anyone to the the right of them politically as being racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, etc., has reduced the effectiveness and even encouraged otherwise sensible people to start describing themselves in those terms. In the same way that the epithet “fascist” no longer has any meaning beyond “something or someone I don’t like”, these other terms have also lost much of their power through massive over-use.

December 1, 2016

QotD: Victim mentality and “white rage”

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The media is always fretting that ginning up “white rage” will produce “backlash” — violence — against minority communities.

Okay, let’s say I accept that’s a possibility.

Is it not also a possibility that ginning up minority rage over agrievements, both those that can be characterized as possibly real as well of those of the #FakeNews contrived paranoia variety, can spur non-whites into their own “backlash” mode?

If not, why not? Are whites singularly evil in this world? Are they alone the only race capable of being whipped up into a hateful, violent lather by racial paranoia and racial grievances?

[…]

If it’s dangerous for a strain of white identity politics to nurture a fear and hatred of “The Other” — different races — and that such a strain of grievance-mongering and paranoia may result in the murders or assaults of minorities, why is it (as the media and mediating institutions seem to believe) not dangerous at all for minority ethnic groups to gin up their own fear, paranoia, and hatred against whites or society in general?

Will the media or any government official ever address this, given the weekly assassinations of police, and the newest barbarism committed against OSU students due to one lunatic steeping in the hatreds of identity politics?

Ace, “Jim Geraghty: OSU Jihadi Proves That the Progressives’ Victim Mentality Kills”, Ace of Spades H.Q., 2016-11-30.

November 18, 2016

Scott Alexander – “You are still crying wolf”

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Donald Trump is President-elect, but he didn’t get there by pandering to white supremacist and racist voters, but you’d never know that by how his campaign was reported in the media. Scott Alexander says that the media still hasn’t learned its lesson and is still crying wolf:

Back in October 2015, I wrote that the media narrative of Trump as “the white power candidate” and “the first openly white supremacist candidate to have a shot at the Presidency in the modern era” were being fabricated out of thin air. I said that “the media narrative that Trump is doing some kind of special appeal-to-white-voters voodoo is unsupported by any polling data”, and predicted that:

    If Trump were the Republican nominee, he could probably count on equal or greater support from minorities as Romney or McCain before him.

Well, guess what? The votes are in, and Trump got greater support from minorities than Romney or McCain before him. You can read the Washington Post article, Trump Got More Votes From People Of Color Than Romney Did, or look at the raw data (source)

We see that of every racial group, the one where Trump made the smallest gains over Romney was white people. I want to repeat that: the group where Trump’s message resonated least over what we would predict from a generic Republican was the white population.

Nor was there some surge in white turnout. I don’t see official numbers yet, but by eyeballing what data we have it looks very much like whites turned out in lower numbers to vote in 2016 than they did in 2012, 2010, and so on.

Of course, the media quickly responded to all of this undeniable and freely available data with articles like White Flight From Reality: Inside The Racist Panic That Fueled Donald Trump’s Victory and Make No Mistake: Donald Trump’s Win Represents A Racist “Whitelash”.

I stick to my thesis from October 2015. There is no evidence that Donald Trump is more racist than any past Republican candidate (or any other 70 year old white guy, for that matter). All this stuff about how he’s “the candidate of the KKK” and “the vanguard of a new white supremacist movement” is made up. It’s a catastrophic distraction from the dozens of other undeniable problems with Trump that could have convinced voters to abandon him. That it came to dominate the election cycle should be considered a horrifying indictment of our political discourse, in the same way that it would be a horrifying indictment of our political discourse if the entire Republican campaign had been based around the theory that Hillary Clinton was a secret Satanist. Yes, calling Romney a racist was crying wolf. But you are still crying wolf.

I avoided pushing this point any more since last October because I didn’t want to look like I was supporting Trump, or accidentally convince anyone else to support Trump. But since we’re past the point where that matters anymore, I want to present exactly why I think this is true.

I realize that all of this is going to make me sound like a crazy person and put me completely at odds with every respectable thinker in the media, but luckily, being a crazy person at odds with every respectable thinker in the media has been a pretty good ticket to predictive accuracy lately, so whatever.

(more…)

October 24, 2016

The “logic” of hate crime legislation

Filed under: Britain, Law, Religion — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Julie Burchill wonders why we enshrine in law the repulsive notion that some lives are more important than others:

I’ve always been somewhat bemused by the concept of ‘hate crime’ – a phrase which first came into use in the US in the 1980s and into practice in the UK in 1998. I must say that the idea that it is somehow worse to beat up or kill someone because you object to their race or religion, than because you’re a nasty piece of work who felt like beating up or killing someone, strikes me as quite extraordinary – hateful, even, implying that some lives are worth more than others. Are we not all human, do we not all bleed? If we’re murdered, do not those who love us grieve for us equally? Why, then, are attacks on some thought to be worse than attacks on others? Indeed, the book Hate Crimes: Criminal Law and Identity Politics claims that hate crime legislation may exacerbate conflict, upholding the idea that crimes are committed by members of groups rather than by individuals, thereby inflaming intolerance between different ethnic communities.

Nevertheless, in a dark twist on Alice In Wonderland’s all-must-have-prizes shtick, gay people were added soon afterwards. Then, obviously realising that it was somewhat stupid to deem an attack on a big strapping man who was more than capable of standing up for himself worse than an attack on a frail, heterosexual OAP, the elderly were added in 2007 to the list of people who it’s especially bad to attack or kill. This being the case, quite understandably the disabled were soon eligible to be victims of hate crime, too.

It’s very easy for me to be offensive about anything, so I’ll tread very carefully here. I do think that there is something particularly vile about picking on those with far less chance of fighting back and that those who do it should be dealt with particularly harshly. On the other hand, I don’t think that ‘hate’ usually comes into attacks on the elderly and the disabled, or on children – simply the very unpleasant fact that sadists, cowards and bullies know they are easy targets. In fact, they probably like this about them.

It’s also quite hard for me to understand how those who claim, and have their champions claim, to be the most chronic and vulnerable victims of hate crimes are Muslims. If you visited this country from another planet, all the ceaseless clatter about hate crimes of the Islamophobic kind might have you believing that a brace of Muslims a week were being butchered in the street due to the sheer molten hatred of the blood-thirsty Christian community. Whereas, in fact, Islamist terrorism kills eight times more Muslims than non-Muslims. In this country, three Muslims have been killed for being Muslims over the past three years – all by other Muslims.

October 21, 2016

QotD: Check your privilege

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I’m privileged. We are privileged beyond the dreams of kings and queens of past centuries.

Unfortunately when they tell you to “check your privilege” that’s not what they mean.

This is a phrase increasingly deployed by people (usually women – rolls eyes) with an academic background and its meaning is … liberal squid ink. If you’re telling them that Welfare was a disaster for black families (it was) and that affirmative action not only has been a disaster for many organizations, but corrodes the soul (you never know why you were hired. I have friends in that position) and institutes birth-privilege based on who your ancestors were (aka nobility) they will say “check your privilege.” This really doesn’t mean a heck of a lot. It can’t, because they have no idea who you are, or indeed if you have ever received any privilege growing up.

What it is based on is the idea that our society is so inherently racist/sexist/homophobic that just by being straight, white and male someone receives better treatment than someone else who isn’t one or more of those things.

Like most lunatic ravings of the left, it has a point, except for the “male” thing.

Is there some sort of automatic boost you get for being a member of the majority (which women are, despite being accorded minority status.) Of course. You’re a known quantity. Just by virtue of people having interacted with someone like you, you’re going to get “helpful” treatment, even if you are supposedly a minority.

[…]

The reason so many academic liberals deploy it as a war cry, though, is because they are mostly academics from – da – privileged backgrounds. This sort of “insult” is the worst they’ve ever suffered. They’ve never been low man on the totem pole with sh*t flowing downhill for things you couldn’t even vaguely control.

So they imagine these casual slights are the worst thing ever.

It’s sort of like kids who always got all the candy they wanted, feeling crushed because you said “no chocolate before breakfast.” It’s the worst thing ever, because it’s the worst they’ve ever experienced.

They also find it useful to shut up opponents because well… if they say it, any normal rational people thinks of my opening to this post. They think “Well, I am unusually blessed, maybe—”

Don’t. Just don’t. Most of the people who use “check your privilege” could buy you and sell you outright. The real “downtrodden” battling to get to the top will often have the same reaction YOU have.

The point is, we’re all equal under the law. Human discrimination is not something you can stop, but it’s also not something that is triggered to the Marxist categories of race, orientation or even class. It’s usually more subtle. I might discriminate against someone because something about him bothers me: accent, gestures, something. I might not even know why. It might be unjust.

It’s just a result of humans not being perfect. No human society can get rid of it. Giving people the power to point and cry privilege to shut others up will just privilege a bunch of academics and bureaucrats who will use it to their advantage.

When told to check your privilege, I suggest you answer “it’s fine, thank you. How about yours? A bit overlarge, no?”

Sarah A. Hoyt, “Squid Ink”, According to Hoyt, 2015-02-10.

October 4, 2016

When you suppress hate speech, you don’t actually eliminate it

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

People seem to be surprised that censorship generates pushback from the censored. In this case, the more active censorship of certain words by Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies has encouraged the targets of the censors to come up with other ways to communicate with fellow-minded people, in this case a simple substitution code:

Now a new type of hateful internet code appears to be emerging: The systematic use of innocuous words to stand in for offensive racial slurs. Search Twitter for “googles,” “skypes,” or “yahoos,” and you will encounter some shocking results, like this tweet: “If welfare state is a given it must go towards our own who needs. No Skypes, googles, or yahoos.” Or this one, reading “Chain the googles / Gas the yahoos.”

What does this mean? Nothing good. In this lexicon, “googles” means the n-word; “skypes” means Jews; and “yahoos” means “spic.” The word “skittles” has come to refer to Muslims, an obvious reference to Donald Trump Jr.’s comparing of refugees with candy that “would kill you.”

By all accounts the lexicon seems to have been conceived on 4chan — a message board famous for its trolls — as a response to Google’s improved method for identifying pages and comments with offensive content and potentially removing or flagging them. The title of the 4chan post that seems to have started it all is “RIP alt-right trolls, SkyNet is coming for you.” The trolls responded with a loosely organized effort called “Operation Google,” which aims to get around these algorithms, and to trick them into blocking the names of their own services and companies.

Hence the use of “google” to mean what is arguably the most offensive term of them all. For a fuller list, including coded anti-LGBT terms, click here. (Warning: It’s not pretty.) This list appeared on 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” /pol/ board, and has been widely shared on Twitter and elsewhere, and similar terms can be found as well.

September 14, 2016

“BLM seems to be stuck in a pointless do-loop of disruption and virtue-signalling”

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Warren Meyer on the attention that the Black Lives Matter movement has drawn, and their apparent problem with deciding on or implementing the next steps:

Well, it appears that Black Lives Matter has moved on to climate activism, or whatever, but has mostly fallen off message on police accountability. Protests in the vague hope of ending racism by closing busy highways and airports and kneeling during the National Anthem are going to get nothing done — the solution to the problems that sparked the BLM movement are to be found in legislative efforts to create better police accountability measures and to roll back a number of egregious protections from accountability that exist in many union contracts. The solution is not to throw blanket hate on police officers, many or most of whom are doing a good job, but to recognize that when we give officers unique powers to use force, they need extra accountability to go with those powers. Today, most police have less accountability for their use of force than you and I do.

Unfortunately, doing that is hard. It is a tough legislative slog that has to go local city by local city, with few national-level shortcuts available. It faces opposition from Conservatives who tend to fetishize police, and from Liberals who are reluctant to challenge a public employees union. And it requires that BLM translate their energy from disruption and attention-grabbing (which they are very good at) to policy and legislation, which they have shown no facility for. They need to be working on model legislation and pushing that down to the local level. This original plan actually looked pretty good, but apparently it has been rejected and gets little or no attention.

As a result, BLM seems to be stuck in a pointless do-loop of disruption and virtue-signalling. I just want to scream at them, “OK, you have our attention — and many of us are sympathetic — what in the hell do you want done?” Unfortunately, their current lists of goals have almost nothing to do with police accountability and appear to be a laundry list of progressive talking points. It appears to be another radical organization that has been jacked by the Democratic establishment to push mainstream Democratic talking points.

Here is a good example, for a number of reasons. In the past, the officer likely would have been believed and the woman might have been convicted of something. I think this happens to people across the racial spectrum, but African-Americans have had a particularly hard time — given both racist perceptions and lack of good counsel — in these he-said-she-said cases with police. Not to mention that African-Americans — for a variety of reasons including racial profiling in things like New York’s stop and frisk program to the tendency of poor black municipalities to fine the crap out of their citizens to generate revenue — come in contact with police disproportionately more often.

September 6, 2016

Could this be a winning strategy for Il Donalduce?

Filed under: Law, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Jay Currie suggests a three-part plan that might bring about a Trump victory in November:

First, announce that a Trump administration will decriminalize marijuana.

Second, announce that every single person serving time for marijuana related offences is going to be pardoned on condition that they spend a three month intensive period in a pre-employment boot camp. And announce that, from the day Trump takes office, any criminal record for marijuana offences will be expunged as of right and right now.

Third, commit serious federal resources to creating paths to employment for the people who have either been in jail or who have had criminal records as a result of pot convictions.

You can picture Trump saying, “Let’s bring our kids, and their fathers, home.”

The last twenty years have been about incarcerating black people and Latinos for all sorts of crimes. Some of that is justified, but a lot of it has been felony marijuana arrests which should have been traffic tickets but got bumped because of priors, plea bargains and three strikes laws. It’s time for that to stop.

People’s children, husbands and wives have been sent to prison for a reason that an increasing number of states think is wrong. Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska have legalized recreational pot and the federal government has gone along. Medical marijuana is legal in many other states. More states have either medical marijuana or recreational marijuana on the ballot in November.

The Donald does not have to say pot is a good thing. In fact, if he is smart he will say it is a bad thing and that he does not want any sensible American to use it; but it should not be a criminal thing because, if it is, there will be a disproportionate impact on black, Latino and poor white communities. That is just a fact.

August 20, 2016

“[S]tudio executives from the wage-gap capital of the world mansplain feminism”

Filed under: Business, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Bre Payton wants Hollywood to start treating women as people:

Here’s how I imagine the pitch meeting for Ocean’s 8 went down in a smoky executive boardroom somewhere in Warner Bros.’ studio office.

    Balding Male Executive #1: Gee, Colombia Pictures got loudly applauded for that lousy ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot. We could really use some nice tweets from Lena Dunham.

    Male Executive #2: You know she doesn’t tweet anything herself, right?

    Glasses-wearing Male Executive #3: We could just make another biopic about a queen. . .

    Male Executive #2: I’ve got it! We’ll pick a well-loved film and recast all the male leads with female actors.

    Balding Male Executive #1: Brilliant! And we can pay them all less because they’re ALL women.

    Executive #2: I’ll make some calls.

I’m not the only one who’s sick of having studio executives from the wage-gap capital of the world mansplain feminism. As Amy Roberts points out, Hollywood seems to only be interested in throwing “cinematic slops” to women.

“In 2016, why is it that the movie industry feels as though it can only entrust a blockbuster movie to women as long as the film’s story and characters are based on already successful male ones?” she writes.

She has a point — this is Hollywood — the place where women are consistently paid less than men, the town that forgets about women the second they turn 40, the place where it’s hard for women to get roles any deeper than the shallow end of a kiddie pool, the city that hides its actresses of color.

June 24, 2016

“[W]hite activists [need to] stop casting Indigenous peoples as magical pixie enviro-pacifists”

Filed under: Books, Cancon, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Jonathan Kay on the problem with discussing First Nations people as if they are “Magical Aboriginals”:

… the path toward reconciliation doesn’t always run through Ottawa or Rome. Reconciliation also can take place at the level of friends, family members and neighbours. In a newly published collection of essays, In This Together, editor Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail brings together fifteen writers — some Indigenous, some not — who describe how this process has played out in their own lives. “[The authors] investigate their ancestors’ roles in creating the country we live in today,” Metcalfe-Chenail writes in her introduction. “They look at their own assumptions and experiences under a microscope in hopes that you will do the same.”

In This Together is a poignant and well-intentioned book, and one that deserves to be bought and read. It is also informative and unsettling — though not always in the way the authors intend. Taken as a whole, the stories betray the extent to which guilt, sentimentality and ideological dogma have compromised the debate about Indigenous issues in this country.

[…]

In describing the stock “Magical Negro” who often appears in popular books and movies, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu once noted that this type of character typically is shown to be “wise, patient, and spiritually in touch, [c]loser to the earth.” (Think of Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding in The Shawshank Redemption.) In This Together contains a menagerie of similarly magical-seeming Aboriginals who are “soft-spoken” and “insightful.” A typical supporting character is the hard-luck Aboriginal child whose “entire face seemed to radiate a quiet knowing.” Older characters speak in Yoda-like snippets such as “There is much loss — but all is not lost.”

White characters in this book mostly are presented in the opposite way. They tend to be cruel, obese (“bulging,” “fat, red-faced,” “plump”), and soulless. Streetly goes even further, describing outsiders who come to Tofino as “faceless, meaningless” — as if they were robots. In a story about a First Nations woman with the dermatological condition vitiligo, Carol Shaben casts whiteness as an imperial disease — “an ever-expanding territory of white colonized the brown landscape of her skin.” In matters of economics, whites often are depicted as amoral capitalist marauders (“quick to brand and claim ownership”), while Indigenous peoples are presented as inveterate communitarians — gentle birds who “soar above the land, take stock, perch without harming, settle without ownership, and be grateful without exploitation.”

[…]

For decades, it has been a point of principle that Indigenous peoples in Canada must chart their own future without interference from outsiders. Our First Nations will have to make difficult decisions about what mix of traditional and modern elements they want in their society; and address wrenching questions about integration, relocation, language use, and education. Addressing these hard questions will be all the more difficult if Canada’s leading thinkers — even those with the best of intentions, such as the authors of In This Together — build the project of reconciliation on a foundation of attractive myths.

It is our moral duty as a Canadians to acknowledge the full horror of what was done to Indigenous peoples. But we must not respond to this horror by seeking to conjure an Indigenous Eden of postcolonial imagination — a society that never truly existed in the first place.

May 26, 2016

Terry Teachout on silent movies

Filed under: History, Media, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Ten years ago, Terry Teachout finally got around to watching D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, and found (to his relief) that it was just as offensively racist as everyone had always said. He also discovered that silent movies are becoming terra incognita even to those who love old movies:

None of this, however, interested me half so much as the fact that The Birth of a Nation progresses with the slow-motion solemnity of a funeral march. Even the title cards stay on the screen for three times as long as it takes to read them. Five minutes after the film started, I was squirming with impatience, and after another five minutes passed, I decided out of desperation to try an experiment: I cranked the film up to four times its normal playing speed and watched it that way. It was overly brisk in two or three spots, most notably the re-enactment of Lincoln’s assassination (which turned out to be quite effective – it’s the best scene in the whole film). For the most part, though, I found nearly all of The Birth of a Nation to be perfectly intelligible at the faster speed.

Putting aside for a moment the insurmountable problem of its content, it was the agonizingly slow pace of The Birth of a Nation that proved to be the biggest obstacle to my experiencing it as an objet d’art. Even after I sped it up, my mind continued to wander, and one of the things to which it wandered was my similar inability to extract aesthetic pleasure out of medieval art. With a few exceptions, medieval and early Renaissance art and music don’t speak to me. The gap of sensibility is too wide for me to cross. I have a feeling that silent film – not just just The Birth of a Nation, but all of it – is no more accessible to most modern sensibilities. (The only silent movies I can watch with more than merely antiquarian interest are the comedies of Buster Keaton.) Nor do I think the problem is solely, or even primarily, that it’s silent: I have no problem with plotless dance, for instance. It’s that silent film “speaks” to me in an alien tongue, one I can only master in an intellectual way. That’s not good enough for me when it comes to art, whose immediate appeal is not intellectual but visceral (though the intellect naturally enters into it).

As for The Birth of a Nation, I’m glad I saw it once. My card is now officially punched. On the other hand, I can’t imagine voluntarily seeing it again, any more than I’d attend the premiere of an opera by Philip Glass other than at gunpoint. It is the quintessential example of a work of art that has fulfilled its historical purpose and can now be put aside permanently – and I don’t give a damn about history, at least not in my capacity as an aesthete. I care only for the validity of the immediate experience.

[…] Thrill me and all is forgiven. Bore me and you’ve lost me. That’s why I think it’s now safe to file and forget The Birth of a Nation. Yes, it’s still historically significant, and yes, it tells us something important about the way we once were. But it’s boring — and thank God for that.

May 18, 2016

QotD: When emotional abuse is your means to an end

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Whenever I see screaming, hate-filled behavior like hers the important part never turns out to be whatever principles the screamer claims to be advocating. Those are just window-dressing for the bullying, the dominance games, and the rage.

You cannot ameliorate the behavior of people like that by accepting their premises and arguing within them; they’ll just pocket your concessions and attack again, seeking increasingly abject submission. In one-on-one relationships this is called “emotional abuse”, and like abusers they are all about control of you while claiming to be about anything but.

Third-wave feminism, “social justice” and “anti-racism” are rotten with this. Some of the principles, considered in isolation, would be noble; but they don’t stay noble in the minds of a rage mob.

The good news is that, like emotional abusers, they only have the power over you that you allow them. Liberation begins with recognizing the abuse for what it is. It continues by entirely rejecting their attempts at manipulation. This means rejecting their terminology, their core concepts, their framing, and their attempts to jam you into a “victim” or “oppressor” identity that denies your lived experience.

The identity-jamming part maradydd clearly gets; the most eloquent sections of her writing are those in which she (rightly) rejects feminist attempts to jam her into a victim identity. But I don’t think she quite gets how thoroughly you have to reject the rest of the SJW pitch in order not to enable their abuse.

This is why, for example, I basically disengage from anyone who uses the phrase “white privilege” or the term “patriarchy”. There is a possible world in which these might be useful terms of discussion, but if that were ever our universe it has long since ceased to be. Now what they mean is “I am about to attempt to bully you into submission using kafkatraps and your own sense of decency as a club”.

Eric S. Raymond, “Meredith Patterson’s valiant effort is probably doomed”, Armed and Dangerous, 2015-01-19.

April 14, 2016

QotD: “Dehumanism”

Filed under: Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

What is Dehumanism?

Dehumanism is a term I have coined to describe that soft-edged cloud of modern thinking beloved of the Progressive elite. There is no rigorous definition of dehumanism for the same reason there is no Magisterium for the Wicca, and no Supreme Ruling Council of Anarchists. We are talking about a loose and incoherent alliance of incoherent thinkers. The central principle of Dehumanism is that it lacks principle. It is a disjointed admixture of Machiavelli, Darwin, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche and Nihilism.

Its Machiavellian view of morals says that the ends justify the means, and says that noblest ends, such as world Utopia, justify the basest means, such as genocide; Its Darwinian view of history says that races and bloodlines are locked in remorseless and eternal war to extinction, that men should be bred like dogs, and the weak and unwanted be exterminated; Its Marxist view of economics is that the free market is a Darwinian war between economic classes which must regard each other as implacable foes; Its Freudian view of ethics says that to repress the natural and selfish impulses in a child leads to neurosis, therefore ethics is unnatural, whereas pride and lust and greed and ire and perversion are not only natural, but healthy. Its Nietzschean theology says that God is dead and therefore Power is God. Its Nihilist philosophy says that nothing means anything, therefore no philosophy has meaning and no reasoning is reasonable.

Let me hasten to add that no one person holds all these beliefs, or to the same degree. The beliefs contradict each other and contain lunatic paradoxes, so of course no one can embrace all Dehumanist ideals simultaneously or with equal fervor.

Some wax and wane. The theme of Eugenics, for example, was quietly dropped from the Dehumanist diapason after Hitler betrayed Stalin. Eugenics is no longer welcome in polite society unless disguised as a concern about overpopulation.

Eugenics is not gone forever, of course. The notion is built into the world view of Progressivism, which sees reality as an endless war of race against race, selfish gene against selfish gene. The National Socialists celebrated this alleged reality and sought the totalitarian power to throw the victory of the Darwianian war to the Teutonic race; whereas the Fabian Socialists abhor this alleged reality, and seek the totalitarian power to impose a cease-fire on the Darwianian war.

The Christian idea of a brotherhood of man, or the Enlightenment idea of limits to government, is alien to Progressive thinking and abominated by them. They think colorblindness permits un-umpired competition between the Teutonics and their dusky inferiors; the duskies cannot win; and not to win means to be oppressed; hence, by the twisted logic of Progressivism, a non-racist government or a non-totalitarian government unable to umpire the competition between races leads inevitably to Teutonic triumph and ergo is racist. The only way to stop pro-White racism is by anti-White racism. This requires Whites to act against their own personal self-interest or Darwinian clan interest. Such interests, oddly enough, by the Nietzschean and Machiavellian theology and ethics, is the only source of life’s moral code. It is merely a matter of time before another variation Progressivism arises with some new formulation of Eugenics in its van. The selfish gene demands no less.

The average Progressive or National Socialist or Leftist or New Ager or Lover of Imbecility does not buy fully into these beliefs simply because no one could: these beliefs are deadly, and only the dead could practice them consistently.

The average Progressive or Leftist or New Ager or Imbecilophiliac does not except in small ways support them: he is like a man who burns his leaves and his trash in his backyard, and empties his spittoon off the dock, while the smokestack factories of Academia fill the air with gassy smog, and the overflowing sewer of Hollywood pours liquid sludge by gallons unnumbered into the flood.

He is himself neither truly a Nihilist nor a Marxist; his contribution to the general moral and mental pollution of the age is minimal, but real, and every little bit hurts. He is someone happy to call M. Night Shyamalan a racist for not hiring blue-eyed Eskimos to play the roles of hydrokinetic tribesmen from a make-believe world.

But such is the poisonous moral atmosphere of the modern age. I call it Dehumanism because ours is the first era in history which holds, as its basic postulate of moral reasoning, that there is no moral code, merely arbitrary or useful social myths, and no such thing as reasoning.

John C. Wright, “Supermanity and Dehumanity (Complete)”, John C. Wright’s Journal, 2014-12-13.

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