Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why can't male sacrifice be acknowledged?

I was in a classroom with some senior students discussing the topic of relationships when I made the, to my mind, innocent comment that "men make sacrifices on behalf of their wife and children." It prompted a spontaneous, incredulous outcry from the girls "No, they don't!"

I tried to explain that a man spending most of his time and energy going out to work to provide for his family represented a sacrifice. My explanation didn't go down well. Some of the students just wanted to acknowledge female sacrifice. Others looked gloomy and upset and the word "sexism" was heard. I had clearly said something that I wasn't supposed to say.

So why can't we acknowledge male sacrifice on behalf of women and family?

One possible explanation is that it doesn't fit in with current liberal political beliefs. Liberals see society as made up of unique individuals in pursuit of their own self-interest or their own subjective goods. So perhaps if you are a young liberal woman who believes in the pursuit of your own individual goods, it is discomfiting to acknowledge that someone may be sacrificing on your behalf. Also, if liberals do act for a more universal good it is for a certain liberal understanding of "equality," but the liberal assumption is that if inequality exists it is because men get to choose to do what they want at the expense of others. So the idea of male sacrifice doesn't fit well with this liberal outlook.

But I don't think that these aspects of liberal politics really explain the situation. I personally have heard a woman say that male efforts at work to provide for a family count for nothing "because that is just what men are supposed to do."

And I am not the only one who has come across this attitude. Rollo Tomassi has written a post titled "Appreciation" which includes the following:
I think what most men uniquely deceive themselves of is that they will ultimately be appreciated by women for their sacrifices. Learn this now, you won't. You can’t be because women fundamentally lack the ability to fully realize, much less appreciate the sacrifices a man makes to facilitate her reality. Even the most enlightened, appreciative woman you know still operates in a feminine-centric reality. Men making the personal sacrifices necessary to honor, respect and love her are commonplace. You’re supposed to do those things. You sacrificed your ambitions and potential to provide her with a better life? You were supposed to. You resisted temptation and didn’t cheat on your wife with the hot secretary who was DTF and ready to go? You were supposed to. Your responsibilities to maintaining a marriage, a home, your family, etc. are common – they’re expected. They are only appreciated in their absence.

This is the totality of the feminine-centric reality. Men only exist to facilitate the feminine reality, and any man who disputes this (or even analyzes its aspects) is therefore not a ‘man’. It just IS.

I should note that Rollo Tomassi begins his post by describing what a good marriage looks like - he is no more anti-marriage than I am. But I think he is correct not only in his observation about the difficulty women have in appreciating male sacrifice, but also in his explanation of why this exists - that it relates to women's ingrained expectation that men exist to "facilitate feminine reality" - i.e. the "feminine imperative" is so strong that women unthinkingly see men as existing to uphold feminine reality (and if they do not, or if they even question it, they are simply not "real men").

If this is so it is ultimately damaging. It is demoralising to men to think that none of their efforts will ever truly be appreciated, that their sacrifices count for nothing in the minds of women.

So what is to be done? I'm not sure to be honest, but I can throw out some ideas.

First, there is the alpha option. Women do go for the kind of man who has the drive to pursue things on his own terms and who draws others into his slipstream (I think the expression is that he invites a woman along for the ride). It is possible, in other words, for men to have a change in mindset, in which they develop their own masculine powers and virtues, as an accomplishment that has its own rewards and its own meaning in terms of a life telos, with the appeal of this to women being more of a follow-on outcome.

Second, the feminine imperative doesn't have to be as strong in society as it has become. There were once institutions that weren't dedicated to this imperative to the degree they now are. There were also clubs and fraternal organisations for men - male spaces - so that the role that the feminine imperative dictates for men wasn't necessarily as total as it is today.

If I could order society better, I would not tie up men's lives in the service of women as much as they are now. Realistically, the breadwinning role would still take up most of men's time and energy. But we could aim to free up as much time as possible for men to undertake a more public oriented role, alongside other men, designed to allow men to develop intellectually, spiritually and creatively, and to enjoy the esprit de corps, the fellowship, that comes from working alongside other men to contribute to the wider community and culture.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The feminist art of victimhood

Kasey Edwards is a Melbourne feminist who has published yet another newspaper column complaining about the pay gap between men and women. She blames the focus on merit for the gap:



Her column is written in the usual spirit of grievance that seems to animate all of her output. Ordinarily I would take the trouble to carefully answer her claims about the "injustice" of female pay and if readers are interested they can click on the labels beneath the post or else read a brief statement on the issue here.

But in this case there is a better way to answer Kasey Edwards' claims. Back in 2009 Kasey Edwards had a book published titled Thirty Something & Over It. In the book she details how privileged she was when it came to her pay:
In my second year in the workforce, I was earning as much as my mother, who is a schoolteacher. In my fourth year, I was earning more than my parents combined. My dad is a teacher-in-charge of a school. People raise whole families on what I get as a bonus payment....

And what did she do with all this money? Did she use it to support a family of her own? Well, no:
I eat out all the time. It isn't unusual for me to eat out all three meals in a day...I've stopped looking at the prices on the menu, too...Each year, Emma and I go on a tropical holiday together...my friends are just the same. I recently went shopping with a friend who bought five handbags on impulse, which came to a grand total of $4000.

So what happened? Kasey Edwards felt unfulfilled in corporate life and wanted to do something more creative, so she opted out of the "fast track". She was curious as to why the women she knew shared her dissatisfaction but the men seemed to cheerfully soldier on. So she asked a male colleague about it:
I decide to speak to one of my male friends and colleagues to get his perspective on whether men are over it too. Jame is also a management consultant, working in the IT industry. He's driven, enthusiastic and committed. I envy the way he seems to wholeheartedly throw himself ito work. He seems to care about it and enjoy it. I want to know his secret.

Over a glass of wine, I casually enquire, "Jamie, do you ever feel like you don't want to work anymore?" He looks at me bemused and, to my complete surprise, says, "All the time, mate."

He says he only works because he has to pay the mortgage and support his family. He doesn't get the same buzz from climbing the corporate ladder that he did in his twenties, but he views working as a necessary part of life and therefore has resolved to make the best of it. There is no point in me moaning about having to go to work and making it miserable for myself and the people around me," he says. "So I make the most of it while I'm there, and get fulfilment from other aspects of my life."

The difference between Jamie and me, and many of the women I've spoken to, is that Jamie seems resigned to his fate of corporate drudgery and is just getting on with it. On the other hand, my sisters and I are not so willing to accept unfulfilling work as our lot in life. We are resisting it, resenting it and dreaming about alternatives."

Kasey Edwards knows why male earnings eventually outpace those of women. It is a perfectly just reason. Nor is it one that disadvantages women - Jamie's wife and daughters, after all, are the beneficiaries of his willingness to submit to the breadwinning role.

But Kasey, no matter what privileges come her way, is determined to play the role of victim, her creative output made grey with resentment.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

No good but self-interest?

My original post on white nationalism has led to a discussion of fundamentals. I made the point that white nationalists often see politics as an expression of racial self-interest. I suggested instead that traditional ethnic nationalism could be better upheld on the basis of arguments about the nature of man and the nature of the good.

I wrote a follow up post trying to clarify the point I was making, to which a reader responded as follows:
The notion that values can transcend people and be defended in a disembodied form sound pretentious to me, and Platonist. There is no dichotomy between self/collective interests and what is considered 'good'. i.e. throughout human history, the 'good' has been constantly redefined to advance self/collective interests. This is just reality stripped of all self-serving pretensions, such as 'transcendent values', 'the good', etc.

I found this thought provoking and replied to it in the comments thread. But I'd like to add some further thoughts. The first is that if there is no definable good in life, then how can there be a self-interest? The term "self-interest" implies that there is some good in life that it is in our interest to obtain for ourselves. But if we refuse to recognise that such a good exists, then how do we make sense of the idea of self-interest?

This is something of a problem for various versions of liberalism. Liberals want people to pursue rational ends, but what can they be if there are no objective goods in life? Sometimes liberals resort to vague, nice sounding formulations like "human flourishing" as an ultimate, rational end. Classical liberals usually go for more tangible, material and quantifiable ends, such as property and physical security. At the collective level, the rational ends are thought, similarly, to be GDP growth, infrastructure and diplomatic power. This, though, represents a radical narrowing of the "rational ends" of life.

Marxism has a similar issue. Marx too thought, like my reader, that "the good has been constantly redefined to advance self/collective interests." He claimed for instance that in a capitalist society there was a bourgeois morality which advanced the interests of the bourgeoisie at the expense of the proletariat. The idea then is that the proletariat revolts and asserts its own class interests under the dictatorship of the proletariat. But from there the point is to remove all possible sources of "other" morality. So there is a withering away of the state (no government). No more nations. No families. Just the individual no longer subject to any sort of "false morality" by which individuals might serve the interests of others.

But what then? How does the individual live rationally absent an objective good in life but without some other interest imposed upon him? It's perhaps no accident that Marx famously wrote little about this, though he did suggest that individuals would choose to engage in a variety of activities as they had a mind to do.

To get back to my original point, talking about self-interest usually presupposes some sort of good that it is in our interest to secure. So things become difficult if the idea of objective goods is denied. What then might the vision of "morality as self-interest" be?

Some might perhaps think it acceptable if the "good" was a basic, biological one, such as the instinct to self-preservation, i.e. to "life" whether of the individual or the race. Others might not name a specific good, but see things in terms of a contest of "who predominates," i.e. of who has the power to enact their will, whatever it might be (the left often seems to assume this kind of motivation, and it is embedded in leftist identity politics).

The traditionalist view is, in comparison, rich in goods. My reader is concerned, though, that "The notion that values can transcend people and be defended in a disembodied form sound pretentious to me, and Platonist".

I think it true of religious traditionalists that we do have a sense that the goods that we perceive have a meaningful, spiritual or sacred character - they are "transcendent" in this higher sense.

But I don't see why goods cannot be asserted in a more mundane way. If, for instance, you have ever observed the way a mother gazes on her newborn, and the response of the infant to her, then it is difficult to deny that this kind of mother love is a good in life. It can be asserted as a good strictly on its own terms, i.e. that it is inherently good as an act that has beauty and love embedded within it. It can also be asserted as a good in consequentialist terms, as being significant to the psychological development of the child.

And nations? You do not need Platonic forms to assert that traditional ethnic nations provide a deeper sense of belonging and identity for individuals, that they motivate social commitments, that they provide diverse and unique expressions of humanity, and that they connect people closely to a particular tradition, landscape, history and culture - to the point that they inspire the love and loyalty of those born into them.

I would argue, too, that the human mind is able to grasp abstract moral qualities, such as honesty, or courage, or nobility. We can talk about these intelligently because we know the quality being referred to and we recognise these as moral qualities regardless of whether they serve our interests or not.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Clarifying white nationalism

My post on white nationalism drew quite a number of comments. There was one in particular that I thought it useful to reply to. It was from a long-time reader who usually has no issue with my posts, but this time thought differently:
You have missed the boat here. Any time you argue that Whites have no interests as ethnic and racial groups, no right to demand those interests and be organized to ensure they are promoted, you have gone off course.

You are basically justifying by clever rationalization the past 40 years of anti-White policy. That leads to White genocide in action.

The comment made me think that I had not made my position clear enough. The reader and I both want our ethnic groups to survive into the future. Where we differ is on the "legitimating principle" for pursuing this aim. He takes the white nationalist position that the legitimating principle is a right to pursue one's own collective interests. For me as a traditionalist, the legitimating principle is that it is a defence of the good. As I wrote in my original post:
We would argue that the ties of ethnic community form a deep part of human identity and provide a deep sense of belonging. That it connects us to generations past, present and future and also to the land and to the urban and rural landscape we inhabit. That it powerfully motivates our social commitments, including a willingness to commit to a stable family life.

We would also see these ethno-national traditions as having an inherent good in representing a unique expression of humanity.

This raises the question of whether we should defend our ethnies on the basis of promoting our collective self-interest (white nationalists) or on the basis of defending the good (traditionalists). The pursuit of self-interest does have some points in its favour. It is direct and straightforward. It also plays into an important strain of political thought that is part of the American tradition, namely the classical liberal tradition which emphasises the idea of man being free to pursue his self-interest (albeit an individual self-interest in the market rather than a collective self-interest). In other words, it is more "modern" in seeing value as residing in what people desire or seek rather than in a good that transcends these desires.

There is also a positive aspect to the emphasis that white nationalists put on the pursuit of a collective self-interest rather than an individual one. Once you make a collective existence legitimate and its furtherance a political principle, then other things follow. It is more likely that a healthy family life will be supported and that arts which aim to demoralise people will be rejected.

But there are problems too with a pursuit of a self-interest principle. As I mentioned in my previous post, there are few moral limits built into this principle. Nor is there much reason to extend the same goods that you claim for your own group to others.

And you also have the same general issues that come with modernist philosophies that lack a transcendent good. If it is just about self-interest, even a collective self-interest, then you put yourself at risk of the intellectual class falling at some point into an existential crisis that breeds rancour or perhaps extreme ("vitalist") strategies to assert a meaning to individual life or national life. This is not as likely if the intellectual class has a powerful sense that they are serving a meaningful, transcendent good.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

On white nationalism

The alt right is made up of a number of different political movements, such as traditionalism, identitarianism, orthodoxy and neoreaction. Arguably the most influential element, at least in the U.S., is white nationalism. Given its prominence I thought it useful to try to delineate the politics of white nationalism.

There is clearly some overlap in the political positions taken by traditionalists and white nationalists. But one clear difference is that many white nationalists take as a starting point the principle that politics is an expression of racial self-interest.

There is, of course, some truth to this. Racial self-interest does sometimes lie behind the political positions that people take. And the aim of many white nationalists is the perfectly reasonable one of wanting white Americans to remain the historic majority and to avoid the negative consequences of falling into minority status.

The idea that politics is organised around racial self-interest does, however, have a more problematic side. It means, for instance, that politics will be seen less as a contest between political movements (say, traditionalism vs liberalism) and more as a contest between races or ethnies. So there is considerable emphasis amongst some white nationalists on the Jewish question - on the idea that the core battle line is one between white Americans and Jews.

It is undoubtedly true that Jews in America have a disproportionate influence in the media and that secular Jewish intellectuals are often committed to leftist causes that harm the white American majority. However, seeing politics as a racial or ethnic conflict has its limitations.

First, it often underplays the agency of the class of white intellectuals who are also committed to leftist causes. If politics is about racial self interest, then why aren't these white intellectuals promoting the interests of their own race? A WN might answer that they have fallen under the sway of Jewish influence, but this is of dubious historic accuracy, given that the WASP elite in the U.S. was committed to open borders for much of the 1800s or that serious traditionalist intellectuals like T.S. Eliot thought that English culture was hopelessly liberalised as long ago as the 1930s. You would have to argue that a tiny number of Jews had captured the minds of vast numbers of non-Jewish intellectuals for some hundreds of years. I know quite a number of white intellectuals and I don't believe that their problem is that they have been "captured" by a foreign influence - there are better explanations for why they are committed to a transgressive politics.

Second, although it is true that secular Jewish intellectuals often set themselves against the historic white majority, they are not alone in doing so. I have already mentioned our own white intellectual class, which has swung hard left for generations. But you could add to the rainbow coalition the women's movement, the LGBQT movement, the BLM, unmarried females, the greens, the trade unions and so on. So the dividing line is not just a racial or ethnic one, but also one organised around sex, sexuality and family status amongst others. (You could also add to all this the role of the big economic corporations and the managerial class.)

A third problem with organising politics solely around the idea of racial self-interest is that it hinders the establishment of political alliances. They may be a minority within their groups, but there do exist black conservatives and Jewish conservatives who do recognise the harm done by leftism, both to their own groups and to the larger society. The distrust of Jewish conservatives is especially marked amongst some WNs.

Also, if politics is thought to be organised around racial self-interest, then it opens the way for the idea that a future state should be organised around race rather than around the historic regions or nations or peoples. In other words, it can lead to a belief that the traditional ethnostate is too limited in scope, compared to a new pan-racial state. Richard Spencer seems to have gone down this path:



Then there is the issue that there are no moral limits to a politics based on racial self interest. In theory, if something is in the interests of your race it is morally justified. Nor is there a basis in principle for extending the goods you claim for your own race to other races. If there are moral limits they would have to come from elsewhere, for instance, from a religious tradition existing within the racial group or from the personal character of those upholding the focus on racial self-interest, but the principle itself does not set limits.

Finally, and most controversially, there is some potential overlap at the edges between white nationalism and national socialism. On the one hand, few WNs seem interested in ideas of racial supremacy or superiority, which sets them apart from the national socialist tradition. However, both movements do have a focus on the Jewish question and on organising politics around race. And there does exist a corner of the alt right where there is an interest in national socialism, though it is hard to tell how serious this is and it is sometimes described as "larping" (live action role playing), i.e. as more playing around with it rather than a serious commitment. Nonetheless, it is a pity to observe an interest in a failed politics from the past.

In trying to draw out the differences in the principles of white nationalism and traditionalism I have had to make a number of criticisms, so I'd like to restate more positively that there is much that we agree on, including a support for ethnonationalism rather than civic nationalism.

Which raises a question. If traditionalists do not start with the idea of politics as the expression of racial self-interest, on what grounds do we then support ethnic community?

The answer is that it is our understanding of the nature of man and the nature of the good that leads us to support a traditional ethnic nationalism.

We would argue that the ties of ethnic community form a deep part of human identity and provide a deep sense of belonging. That it connects us to generations past, present and future and also to the land and to the urban and rural landscape we inhabit. That it powerfully motivates our social commitments, including a willingness to commit to a stable family life.

We would also see these ethno-national traditions as having an inherent good in representing a unique expression of humanity. Solzhenitsyn put it this way:
In recent times it has been fashionable to talk of the levelling of nations, of the disappearance of different races in the melting-pot of contemporary civilization. I do not agree with this opinion, but its discussion remains another question. Here it is merely fitting to say that the disappearance of nations would have impoverished us no less than if all men had become alike, with one personality and one face. Nations are the wealth of mankind, its collective personalities; the very least of them wears its own special colours and bears within itself a special facet of divine intention.

Individuals often have a sense of this transcendent good embedded within their ethno-national tradition and it can inspire a love of country, culture and people and a desire to serve the tradition by adding positively to it. It can also lend a certain kind of enchantment to life, as well as a "rootedness" - of having what the Germans call a "Heimat" - a place that is felt to be one's home.

It is not just traditionalists who have knowledge of this. Professor Robert Manne described himself as belonging to "a group that I would call the pro-Labor social justice liberal intelligentsia." He defended the existence of traditional Aboriginal communities in terms similar to Solzhenitsyn:
... if the traditional communities are indeed destroyed, one distinctive expression of human life - with its own forms of language, culture, spirituality and sensibility - will simply become extinct. Humanity is enriched and shaped by the diversity of its forms of life. It is vastly impoverished as this diversity declines. If contemporary Australians allow what remains of the traditional Aboriginal world to die, we will be haunted by the tragedy for generations.

It is thought permissible within the terms of left-liberal social justice to recognise this truth for Aborigines. But logically if it is true for them, it is true for us as well.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Barcelona & the cult

There was some sobering video footage posted on social media of the immediate aftermath of the Barcelona terrorist attack. Unlike the images of candles and flowers and people hugging, this showed very starkly the human toll, including the violence to the bodies of young people.

So what was the reaction of those living in Barcelona? An estimated crowd of 160,000 marched in the street demanding that the government take in more "refugees" - despite the fact that a number of these "refugees" had just carried out an horrific attack on the native Spaniards' own young - on their own sons and daughters.

The Barcelona March


And then I saw a footage of another leftist demonstration, this time in Boston in the U.S. About 40,000 leftists came out to protest against a free speech rally. There were white demonstrators in the crowd holding up "white people suck" placards.



And the thought occurred to me that the leftists in Barcelona and Boston are committed to a cause that is self-annihilating and that this kind of unhealthy mindset is normally to be found within cults, i.e. a commitment to a cult can be so strong that some adherents will self-annihilate as an act of loyalty to it.

It's not my intention to prove that leftism really is, strictly speaking, a cult. But I do want to follow through, as a thought experiment, with the idea that there might be some cult-like aspects to modern day leftism.

So what is the cult oriented to? I've often given the answer that the aim is a vision of individual freedom, defined as personal autonomy, in which the individual self-defines their own good and their own identity. But I was reading an old discussion thread from VFR, in which Lawrence Auster discusses the nature of leftism, and he hit upon something that is also significant to understanding leftism:
On the right, traditional conservatives believe in “larger wholes”—the realities of nature, society, and God—of race, culture, and religion—that make us what we are. They believe in natural and spiritual hierarchies that are implied in these larger wholes. Inequality is built into existence. Of course there are various kinds of traditional conservatism, each of them placing particular emphasis on certain aspects of the natural, social, and transcendent orders, while downplaying or ignoring others.

In the middle, traditional liberals (right-liberals) believe in individualism: all individuals have equal rights, the individual is free to create himself, he is not determined by the larger wholes into which he was born. We should just see people, all members of the human race, as individuals deserving of equal dignity.

On the left, socialists and Communists, like traditional conservatives, believe in larger wholes, but the wholes they believe in are seen in terms of equality: the whole of society—equal; the whole of the human race—equal. They believe that man has the ability to engineer this larger, equal whole into existence, wiping out the unequal, inherited orders of class, sex, nation, race, religion, morality, and thus creating a New Humanity. Only the largest whole—humankind—is good, because only at the level of all humanity can there be true equality and fraternity uniting all people.

I wouldn't have put it quite like this as leftism still has a commitment to the idea of individuals being free to create themselves. But I think it is true that there is a kind of leftism - particularly middle-class, intellectual, student leftism - which has an image of an end point in history in which there is one, equal, world community. And this is a focal point for the "cult". John Lennon gave voice to the mindset in his song "Imagine":
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

Traditionalists hear this and think it's just mindless, hippie flummery. But what if it really has meaning for leftists - that they really do dream that the "world will be as one" in the terms Lennon describes. If this is the "eschaton" (the end point in world history), and you are committed to it as if part of a cult, then maybe even if open borders lead to the murder of young people in your country, you might still see mass immigration as a larger good, you might redouble your commitment to it as a necessary step to "people sharing all the world" as part of a one world collective.

So, to continue the thought experiment, let's say we have thousands of Westerners, particularly of the student/intellectual/activist type, caught in a one world cult. Can they ever get out? Is escape possible?

It is likely that some of them have misgivings already. And cults often do shed members. But making the jump out isn't necessarily easy. Being on the inside can give individuals a sense of meaning in their lives (of participating in a cause that brings about great and lasting change); it can provide individuals with a sense of fellowship and belonging; it can also provide a sense of status, including moral status (of being one of the elite, the enlightened, the righteous making progressive change).

As it happens, liberalism creates something of a loop for itself here. Liberalism gradually dissolves the usual forms of human fellowship, of moral standards, of status, of identity and belonging, thereby making it even more difficult for adherents to make the leap out.

Given all this, how can we encourage the cult to shed members? I'd like to take a quick look here at how two different strands within the broader alt right are positioned to do this, the two being white nationalists and traditionalists. There is certainly overlap between these two political movements, but there is a critical distinction. White nationalists, as the name suggests, do tend to organise their politics around race. The tendency is to see politics as an expression of racial self-interest. There is also a tendency to look to a race-wide (pan-ethnic) state as an ideal, rather than to the historic nation. Traditionalists, in contrast, see political movements and ideologies themselves as the key battle lines, which is why we often focus on the influence (and the inner logic) of liberalism as a core explanatory factor in what has happened to the West.

At its far end, white nationalism does seem to spill over into a sympathy for national socialism. You can see why this is, as the national socialists of the 30s also made race an organising principle of their politics. National socialism had some cult like elements of its own, such as leader worship, and group loyalty fostered by uniforms, symbols, salutes, mass rallies and so on.

There are white nationalists, particularly in the U.S., who seem to be looking to the "group loyalty" parts of this as a way of attracting and holding support. I can see this working with some people, but not really encouraging the shedding from the liberal cult of those with misgivings, particularly if the uniforms, salutes, symbols and so on play into the received imagery of "white supremacy" - this is likely to reinforce the liberal cult belief that the alternative to the one world utopia is something like the politics of the 1930s. In other words, it is likely to encourage people to draw back into the cult, rather than to jettison it.

We traditionalists have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to creating an alternative to the liberal cult. The strength is the potential appeal of the "tradlife" message that is being presented so effectively by a number of alt right women. Liberals have mocked the "white picket fence" ideal, as well as the "whitebread" ideal of stable, ethnically homogeneous communities. The alt right women are presenting a positive image of family, community and sex distinctions - of the particularisms that the liberal cult wants to destroy. It is a good counterpoint to what the cult promotes, for those with misgivings about the direction of society.

But there is also a weakness to this. If people are shed on this basis from the liberal cult, then many are likely to focus their lives on family and perhaps church and so are lost to political organisation and resistance. Liberals then retain the commanding heights of society.

To put this another way, traditionalists find part of their meaning and belonging in non-political communities like family and church and so are less needy of what others might look for in the political cult.

Even so, we need to achieve political organisation and so we need to create "fellowship" institutions. I believe too that we need to foster an understanding that men fulfil themselves not only in the domestic sphere but also via a civilisational role within the larger community (I suspect that many men who are limited to the domestic sphere do have a sense that there is something missing - that they are not fully engaged in what they were made for.)

Friday, August 18, 2017

After Charlottesville

The American left has managed to seize defeat from the events at Charlottesville. How? By being emboldened to show the world what their vision for the future is. It is an extraordinarily dystopian and ugly vision, in which leftist rancour is directed at "abolishing whiteness" via measures that would not seem out of place in a George Orwell novel.

After Charlottesville there was an intensive media attack on the alt right and a lionising of the left and antifa. But then the left decided to attack not only the alt right but white America itself. The aim is a kind of erasure - the overthrow of a people, its symbols, its history, its future existence.

And so the stark message is that the there is no option but to continue to fight back politically against the left - to resist the future (the non-future) they have planned for us throughout the West.

To get a sense of the way the agenda of the left is now oriented, consider the following visuals. The first is antifa making no secret of what their aim is:



Then there was a rash of leftist crowds bringing down statues of white men, initially Confederate figures, but later any white figures:







There was support for the statue attacks in the leftist media:





It didn't stop at statues:



There was excited talk of white extinction:





If you have a sense of how disfigured the leftist mission is, then it brings into sharper relief the significance of resistance to it. We are now the bearers of the best of the Western tradition. On our shoulders the future of this tradition rests. It is a great undertaking.

Update: leftist media now targeting Walt Disney.



Update 2: And now, predictably, a statue of a Catholic saint has been attacked and there are calls for it to be removed:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Liberals step up abolition of sex distinctions

So liberals believe that we should self-define who we are, which means that predetermined qualities like our sex are thought to be limitations on the self and on our freedom as autonomous individuals to choose freely in any direction. Therefore, sex distinctions have to be made not to matter. Which explains the following news items from the past week.

First, outrage that a toy pram should be marketed to girls with a "play like mum" slogan:




You would think that this was the most innocent and natural thing for young girls to do, but in a liberal society it is a cause of outrage.

Next was a story that the Australian Army is no longer recruiting men. One recruiting officer complained that he now had to try to protect the Army from Canberra.



Then a story hit the press of an English "hate crime" police officer who warned supermarkets that they should change their "feminine hygiene" signs to something sex neutral like "personal hygiene":



Imagine being a supermarket manager and being told that it is a hate crime to display tampons and the like as feminine hygiene products:



Then there is the decision by NSW authorities to implement a 50% quota for women in hiring new fire fighters. To achieve this the physical strength requirements for fire fighters have been drastically reduced:
It wants new recruits to be able to “drag a collapsed firefighter to safety on their own”, yet to accommodate female applicants, the Physical Aptitude Test has been reduced from a 90kg [200lb] dummy drag over 20 metres [66 feet] to the relatively easy task of carrying a 30kg [65lb] weight for 10 metres [33 feet].

The heading:



Another story to make the press was the criticism of shoe company Clarks for selling shoes to girls which had heart patterned insoles in contrast to the boys' shoes which had a football design.



The company has caved in to the criticisms:
The shoe manufacturer has removed the Dolly Babe from its website following "customer feedback" about the name.

"We are working hard to ensure our ranges reflect our gender-neutral ethos," Clarks said.

...Clarks said it was creating more unisex shoes in response to customer feedback and promoting its gender-neutral stance both online and in store.

The issue united both right and left (liberals) in condemning the shoe company:
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, also criticised Clarks. "To call a pair of shoes for a girl Dolly Babe is dreadful. It's wrong in all sorts of ways ... this is just really silly," he told the BBC.

Carolyn Harris, shadow minister for women and equalities, described the situation as "blatant discrimination", while Sarah Ludford, a Liberal Democrat peer and shadow Brexit minister, called the name choices "depressing".

Finally, there is this:



It's about liberals who believe that people are blank slates and so if children are caught early enough sex distinctions between boys and girls can be eradicated:
At the heart of the BBC programme are claims made by Dr Abdelmoneim that, apart from having different sexual organs, there are no major physical differences between the sexes at the age of seven, and their brains are almost identical.

He concludes that the explanation for why boys act so differently to girls lies in how they are raised, from the toys they are given to the terms of endearment they hear.

Children at one school were subjected to a bizarre liberal experiment:
So, out went the gender-specifics, no more boys-only football matches, books about fairytale damsels in distress and in came the unisex storybooks and mixed sports teams.

The TV production team even went as far as to enforce same-sex toilets, something the class of seven-year-olds protested at loudly.
And this:
In an attempt to bring equality to the classroom, Dr Javid begins by sticking stereotype-breaking affirmations to the walls. “Girls are strong,” one sign reads. “Boys are sensitive,” another says.

This is all so distant from the traditionalist understanding of sex distinctions. We see our individual identity as being closely tied to the fact of being a man or a woman; our sex informs our telos - our life aims and purposes; and at least part of the natural focus of life will be to develop ourselves along masculine or feminine lines, to best fulfil our created nature. So the attempt to suppress, rather than to develop, masculinity in boys and femininity in girls, seems utterly misguided.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Why don't liberals see themselves as the establishment?

We have a liberal establishment and yet liberals generally continue to see themselves as anti-establishment outsiders and rebels.

I was talking to someone at our recent Melbourne Traditionalists meeting who lamented the fact that this left no-one taking responsibility for the larger, long-term health of nation and civilisation. And I think there is much truth to this. Right-liberals are so individualistic that they are often only concerned with what will affect them within the timeframe of their own lives. Left-liberals are often only concerned with the sectional interests of their own identity group (e.g. a white feminist's horizons are often bounded by the professional interests of career women within her own country).

So why do those who dominate the institutions refuse to recognise that they are the establishment? A reader recently noted that liberals deny an order of being:
I have long defined modern liberalism as the denial and the defiance of an immutable natural order of being, which traditionalist conservatism accepts and embraces along with the necessary constraints and trade-offs.

The comment was in response to a post about Karley Sciortino, an American writer with a "fear of normalcy""
Last weekend, I found myself sitting in front of a shaman in a mansion in Berkeley, talking about my commitment problems. You know, cliché white people stuff. “I have this fear,” I told the shaman, “that I’m going to wake up one day with a husband, two kids, a house in the suburbs, and wonder how I got there, as if it’s my destiny.

Liberal moderns like Karley Sciortino aren't able to find meaning in the order of being we find ourselves a part of. It seems too predestined to them, too limiting to their own will. And so they rebel against it, attempt to subvert it. Even when at the helm of society they still have this sense of themselves as rebels and outsiders (particularly true of leftist intellectuals).

So, in the absence of an order of being, where do liberal moderns find meaning? They have to create it themselves ex nihilo, which usually comes down to individual career success, or creative endeavour (writing a book instead of having a baby), or individual status signalling (being politically correct, or belonging to a hip lifestyle group, or supporting some sort of "difficult" avant-garde intellectual or artistic movement).

One last point. I haven't read much about national socialism, but my impression is that they too rejected an order of being and were faced with the task of creating meaning ex nihilo. But they chose a different way of doing it to liberals, via an assertion of will, power, strength and force. That would have given them an advantage in terms of the seizure of power, but a disadvantage when it came to using that power to create a lasting, stable form of society.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Hitchens on the Scandinavian Utopia

I had a couple of readers alert me to a post by Peter Hitchens, in which he reviews a book on the Swedish model of society by Michael Booth. Hitchens praises a particular insight in Booth's book:

But on pages 357 to 360 he produces one of those blinding-light moments that finally link up and solidify long strands of thought.

What is the blinding-light moment? It is that a liberal society aims to make individuals autonomous, by severing the natural connections existing between people, but that this then leaves individuals dependent on the state.

This is not a new insight - I've made the same point many times myself, as have others. But it is expressed well in Hitchens' blog post:
Michael Booth concludes that Swedish Social Democracy 'was driven by one single, over-arching goal; to sever the traditional, some would say natural, ties between its citizens, be they those that bound children to their parents, workers to their employers, wives to their husbands or the elderly to their families. Instead, individuals were encouraged - mostly by financial incentive or disincentive, but also through legislation, propaganda and social pressure - to ‘take their place in the collective’, as one commentator rather ominously put it, and become dependent on the government’.

But he notes that this can also be truthfully described as liberating Swedish citizens from each other allowing them to become autonomous entities.

But of course (and this conclusion is mainly me) they are only autonomous within the embrace of the strong state, which substitutes itself for family, employer and all other social ties, and seizes most of their wealth in return for requiring a loyalty and submission as great as any imposed in feudal times, in return for ‘social protection’. Thus did the peasant whose hovel lay in the shadow of his Lord's castle offer up his fealty in return for safety.

He quotes the Swedish author Henrik Berggren:

‘The Swedish system is best understood not in terms of socialism but in terms of Rousseau…Rousseau was an extreme egalitarian and he really hated any kind of dependence – depending on other people destroyed your integrity, your authenticity – therefore the ideal situation was one where every citizen was an atom separated from all the other atoms…The Swedish system’s logic is that it is dangerous to be dependent on other people, to be beholden to other people. Even to your family’.

Hitchens has another passage following through on this idea. He notes aspects of the decline in British society, such as permissive attitudes to drug use, and writes:
What were all these things about? Why, personal autonomy. Their central slogan was ‘I can do what I like with my own body and nobody can stop me. How dare you tell me what I can do with it?’

The paradox, well understood by Aldous Huxley, is that the person who proudly yells this battle cry also meekly accepts that in return he must surrender his mind, his privacy and his wealth to the power of the parental state.

In Michael Booth’s book, it all came together in an intentional, deliberate pattern. These things are connected. And it is the absence of the Christian conscience which makes them possible, and which is their enemy and rival. The new all-powerful parental state, the war against the married family, the scorn for conscience, the loud demand for personal autonomy and the rage against those who suggest it is in any way limited by morality or law, are all one cause, reborn in the West since the collapse of the USSR and advancing fast on all fronts. I saw it in Moscow and after my return from there, but instinctively. As so often, my instincts were right, and it has taken long years for my understanding and knowledge to catch up with them

There is just one thing I'd like to add to Peter Hitchens' observations. There are traditionalists who instinctively recognise the dynamic that Hitchens describes and who, quite rightly, think it important to uphold non-state institutions like church and family. So they become good churchmen and family men. I don't think this enough. When fathers stand only as individual men, they have little control over the torrent of influence that comes from the larger institutions of society, such as the mass media, the schools and the universities. Defending family or church requires organising together as fathers to shape the larger institutions, wherever this is possible.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Bill Kristol wants to rebrand conservatism as...

Bill Kristol is a leading "neoconservative" member of the American Republican Party. I have argued for many years that the establishment Republicans should really be called right-liberals, as they mostly hold to some variant of a classical liberal politics. Bill Kristol was asked how "conservatives" (establishment Republicans) like himself might rebrand themselves and he answered as follows:



He is happy to rebrand "conservatism" as liberalism. And I hope he does, as using the term conservatism deceives people into thinking they have more political choice within mainstream politics than they really do. The choice is really one between a left liberalism and a right liberalism. You get to choose liberalism.

And in case you are sympathetic to the right wing brand of liberalism, it was Bill Kristol who earlier this year responded to problems within the white American working class by suggesting that the white working class should be replaced by Mexican immigrants.

(Kristol is backed financially by our own Rupert Murdoch.)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A sixties feminist regrets

Before I leave behind Karley Sciortino, I'd like to make one final point. Sometimes societies forget the reasons why traditional moral rules exist. Why, for instance, did traditional societies frown upon young, unmarried people being promiscuous? Was it simply because the elders of these societies were "hung up"?

The lesson to be learnt from recent decades is that when promiscuity is accepted, the young women of a society experience a situation of "abundance" - no shortage of offers - and that large numbers will then spend their 20s trying to hook up with the "hottest" men available to them. But this damages the ability of these women to pair bond with just one man. Karley Sciortino calls this being jaded:
Now, being jaded doesn’t simply mean that you’re “over it.” It’s more that you’ve become sick and tired after overindulging in something. And I’m pretty sure that my current state is the result of binge-eating on sex and relationships for the past 15 years. Some of the telltale signs include: Being around cheery, optimistic people makes me nauseous...I often swipe through Tinder in front of my friends, sighing unnecessarily loudly and saying things like, “See, this is what I have to choose from!”...When I see engagement notifications on Facebook, I think, She must have settled. (Or, if I’m in a particularly bad mood: She just ruined her life.)

It’s gotten to the point where I’ve pretty much convinced myself that my options are either to be single forever or eventually be like, “Eh, you’ll do.”...But even if you know you’re jaded, that doesn’t mean you have the power to control it.

Young adults have an instinct to save themselves for the person they will ultimately commit to, but they also have an instinct to want to experience sexual pleasure and variety. The question then becomes: what is the highest good? Is it a lifelong, loving marriage in which two people successfully bond together? Or is it the pleasure of sexual variety?

What Karley is reminding us is that sexual variety loses its lustre over time and that it undermines the opportunity to experience love with a person of the opposite sex. Traditional societies chose the higher path.

Which brings me to the remarkable Daily Mail column by sixties feminist Jeannette Kupferman. She was one of those young women who initially embraced the feminist sexual revolution but who now wonders about its effect on relationships between the sexes:
It makes me wonder what happened to the Brave New World we’d envisaged for our daughters and granddaughters. A world of unlimited possibilities, choices and equality for girls to become or do anything?

A world I — like many women — fought for in the Sixties.

Has feminism made life worse, not better, for today’s generation of girls?

Certainly, women have never existed in such a bleak emotional landscape.

Note the orthodox liberalism here. She wanted unlimited choices for girls to become or do anything. But she didn't think through what this would logically lead to. If the important thing is not the quality of what you choose, but the fact that you can choose to do or to be anything, then the older moral rules will be thought to limit the individual and his choices. Those who transgress these rules will then be admired as cutting edge and liberated.

She now thinks it has all gone too far. She reminisces about what life was like before the sexual revolution, finding many positives. She writes,
I feel so sad for young girls who will never receive a beautiful love letter or go on a romantic date with no strings attached.

And she wishes the following for her recently born granddaughter:
...I want her to feel euphoria because of the rare richness and uniqueness of life, and because of pride in her own innate womanhood — not be sozzled with booze or worse, ending up destroying body and soul in some demeaning, meaningless sexual encounter.

And yet it was she, and her liberal values, which pushed society along this path. It has been pointed out many times that there is no stop button built into the liberal ideal. You can't push liberalism so far and then say "this is good, but we shouldn't take it any further". It is going to keep logically unravelling, to ever more radical and socially dissolving outcomes.

Monday, July 24, 2017

When women reject a higher nature, what takes over?

In my last post I drew a distinction between elevated and base aspects of womanhood. The elevated aspect is inspiring to men and is associated with feminine virtue:


Men who only see women spiritually as elevated creatures are at risk of becoming "white knights" who hold men alone as responsible for problems within the family. They aren't likely to understand the civilisational effort that is needed to keep women from falling down toward their baser nature.

I mentioned in my last post some of the characteristics that can make female behaviour petty, unstable and destructive. First, women's emotions can slide easily along several horizontal axes, one of which has "fun" at one end and "bored" at the other; another with "love" at one end and "hate" at the other. Women tend more than men to have an external locus of control, believing that what happens to them is the result of cosmic forces that have to be divined.

By chance, soon after writing this post I came across the columns of Karley Sciortino, who writes for Vogue. She is someone who has given herself over to these baser qualities of womanhood to an unusual degree, so she illustrates where the "liberated woman" (i.e. a woman "liberated" from traditionally feminine virtues) will finally arrive.

The purpose of writing this is twofold: first, to encourage women to cultivate virtue and, second, to persuade men that it can't just be left to chance that women will be formed successfully for marriage and motherhood - that this requires the culture to push in whatever way it can toward the virtues.

At first, it seems as if Karley does not prove my point about women externalising. In my first post I asserted:
...women tend to externalise. In their experience, they are acted upon by external forces, so that they don't "own" their personal emotional states. These states happen to them, in ways difficult to understand, perhaps brought about by cosmic forces they cannot control.

...most modern women still give some credence to various forms of fortune telling such as tarot cards. Even highly educated, professional women will use spells or magic to try to ward off "negative energies" that exert a baleful influence over them. Some women still go to fortune tellers to help them make major life decisions, such are those relating to marriage or divorce.

If you read Karley Sciortino's columns they are analytical and self-reflective and therefore disprove my point - until, that is, you read Karley's descriptions of her own female peers:
...even in notoriously skeptical New York, it’s increasingly difficult to find someone who doesn’t believe that some magical cosmic force is dictating everything from subway timing to whether or not they’re getting laid.

And I note too that she is not above dabbling in such matters herself: one of her columns is titled "Can a shaman cure my fear of normalcy?"

What really stands out in Karley Sciortino's writing is her fear of sliding along that axis from fun to boredom. It has been her ruin:
Last weekend, I found myself sitting in front of a shaman in a mansion in Berkeley, talking about my commitment problems. You know, cliché white people stuff. “I have this fear,” I told the shaman, “that I’m going to wake up one day with a husband, two kids, a house in the suburbs, and wonder how I got there, as if it’s my destiny. So to avoid it, I continually destroy my relationships at the first sign they’re headed in that direction.”

...In the past, once a relationship began to feel routine, I cheated...Basically, as soon as something feels stable, I sabotage it. I’ve often thought this impulse stems from my super-white-bread, middle-class upbringing: I grew up in a small town with married parents who loved each other. It felt safe but not interesting, and I’ve spent my life fighting that fate.

She is worried that she will be bored by marital love, motherhood and security and so sabotages her relationships. She also finds virtue in men boring. She explains that she goes for men who are sexually uninhibited because:
the goal is certainly to live a life full of intense and new experiences. And if you prioritize thrill and excitement over security, then a hedonist is the right choice.
And that,
Every time a relationship with a different sex maniac comes to a fiery end, I have the same thought: “This time I’m going to date someone nice, who’s never even once been accused of sexual harassment.” Every time I say it to myself in this really self-congratulatory way, like I’ve just discovered the cure for cancer. But then, without fail, when I start dating one of these nice, in-control people, within two weeks I want to kill myself. It’s hard to get off on virtue alone.

And what about pettiness? This is how Karley Sciortino filters men:
Essentially, we are far more discriminating in our 30s than we were in our 20s, which is both a blessing and a curse. We know more about what we want and what we won’t tolerate—but to a point where almost no one is good enough. I find myself having thoughts like, “I could never date him, he wears V-necks.” Or, “He was nice, but he sleeps in a mezzanine bed.” And this perpetual dissatisfaction is especially true in New York, where inflated egos are paired with incredibly high standards and the illusion of infinite choice. That cliché of thinking “someone better might be just around the corner” is real.

Karley also fits everything that the red pill sites say about the modern girl lifestyle. She rode the carousel during her 20s, but now that she is in her early 30s is worried that she has hit the wall. She has written a whole column explaining her change of heart, which includes this:
...it’s not just that being single suddenly feels alienating in your 30s. It’s also that dating itself becomes more difficult. For one, the stakes are higher. You don’t want to waste your time on someone who doesn’t feel like they could be “the one.” But simultaneously, thinking “would he make a good dad?” after knowing someone for the duration of a martini makes you feel like an insane, rom-com cliché of a woman. Not ideal.

...The catch is, as we become increasingly picky, the pool of soul mates keeps getting smaller. Here’s another 30s development: Now, when I meet a cute guy, he’s often already married...

But after so long with so many men she is, by her own admission, very jaded. She writes that she has given up on meeting a hotter circle of men and is finally thinking of settling. She writes:
Now, being jaded doesn’t simply mean that you’re “over it.” It’s more that you’ve become sick and tired after overindulging in something. And I’m pretty sure that my current state is the result of binge-eating on sex and relationships for the past 15 years. Some of the telltale signs include: Being around cheery, optimistic people makes me nauseous...I often swipe through Tinder in front of my friends, sighing unnecessarily loudly and saying things like, “See, this is what I have to choose from!”...When I see engagement notifications on Facebook, I think, She must have settled. (Or, if I’m in a particularly bad mood: She just ruined her life.)

It’s gotten to the point where I’ve pretty much convinced myself that my options are either to be single forever or eventually be like, “Eh, you’ll do.”...But even if you know you’re jaded, that doesn’t mean you have the power to control it.

Would you really want your son to be the man who ends up marrying this woman? Is this woman likely to successfully pair bond? Is it not likely that she will see her future husband as a beta male she settled for and who will therefore always be on the back foot trying to please her? Is it not likely she will want to go back to the thrill of the low-virtue, uninhibited men she spent her formative years with?

It is true, no doubt, that Karley Sciortino has pushed the "liberated" girl lifestyle further than others, but her mindset illustrates what is possible, negatively, within the nature of women. Does anyone believe that you can form stable marriages from this kind of lifestyle? Or maintain a civilisation?

It is wrong to disregard the choices women make, or to think that it is only masculine virtue that counts. Women have to be drawn to a standard of virtue - this is something basic to family formation, to the possibility of marital love, to a society successfully reproducing itself, and to men being inspired to defend their own tradition.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Male dominion, magical women

I saw this on Twitter and had mixed feelings about it:


There is a sense in which women can claim to be a crowning achievement of divine creation. There is an aspect of womanhood which men perceive to be beautiful, pure, lovely and innocent and which inspires men to a higher form of love and protectiveness. This is women as they exist, potentially at least, on a spiritual level.

There are some alt-right women who are steering the ideal of womanhood back to this higher concept. Below, for instance, is a list of feminine virtues which fits in well with "spiritual womanhood":



The list is good, but a society has to be wise to other less elevated aspects of womanhood. Women can, in their emotions, be petty, unstable and destructive. You could think of a woman's emotions as sliding along a number of horizontal axes. For instance, one axis would have love at one end and hate at the other. Another would have fun at one end and "bored" at the other.

And, combined with this, women tend to externalise. In their experience, they are acted upon by external forces, so that they don't "own" their personal emotional states. These states happen to them, in ways difficult to understand, perhaps brought about by cosmic forces they cannot control.

This spells trouble for women's commitments, particularly their relationship commitments. Easily bored, easily feeling shifts from positive to negative emotion, sometimes prone to seek drama and excitement, sometimes unable to identify their own contribution to their emotional condition, and sometimes expecting an undefined "rescue" by or from some external agent.

It can lead to dissolved families or unhappy marriages. And it can be the most attractively feminine, emotionally vivacious and "nice" women who are most prone to these qualities.

The axis for men is different, as it does not involve as much sliding back and forth. Men seek to travel along a horizontal axis, the end point of which is a certain kind of mastery and control, e.g. to grasp the nature of reality, to penetrate to truth or knowledge, to exercise mastery of one's own will, to gain dominion in some sphere of life. The nature of this ambition means that men will try not to slide backward but to hold onto gains they have made, and it also means that men are pushed toward an "internal locus of control" - that the task is to use one's own concentrated powers to either succeed or fail in achieving mastery.

To illustrate the point further, think of the divergence that has opened up between men and women in the modern era when it comes to such things as auguries, divination and witchcraft. In pre-modern times, men used to seek control over events, in part, by such practices as reading the entrails of sacrificed animals. The scientific era pulled nearly all men away from all this (as being ineffective).

But most modern women still give some credence to various forms of fortune telling such as tarot cards. Even highly educated, professional women will use spells or magic to try to ward off "negative energies" that exert a baleful influence over them. Some women still go to fortune tellers to help them make major life decisions, such are those relating to marriage or divorce. Why? Presumably because they don't have the same mental focus as men on mastery or dominion but instead feel themselves, like the ancients, blindly and randomly subject to the Fates, or to Fortuna, or to cosmic energies that aren't rationally to be grasped but that can only be divined.

Most women, in their heart of hearts, are still ancients. Most men have moved on.

Which is not to say that the male axis is beyond criticism. At its best it is an attempt to grasp an order of existence that harmonises the spiritual, the social and the natural aspects of reality. But it often falls far below this. Some male moderns have tried to reproduce the success of the natural sciences in finding a single "law" by which society and/or self might be ordered. Some seem content to narrow life down to a sphere within which the individual might compete for dominion (e.g. man in the market). Some think only in terms of their own personal mastery within this sphere, the exercise of their own individual will, and so have little regard for the larger tradition they belong to, their communal identity, or for past and future generations. Those who do consider the larger society sometimes seek to achieve rational control via a soulless technocracy. And some have been reduced to a focus merely on the exercise of will itself, having lost faith in the possibility of a rational ordering of self or society.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reply to a libertarian

My previous post on the Cato Institute attracted some interest, including a comment from a libertarian named Kurt who wrote:
The Cato Institute approves a model of society in which there are simply individuals in pursuit of their own self-interest (in particular their economic self-interest).

So do I. There is nothing in libertarianism that precludes people from living a more traditional lifestyle, if they so choose. In fact many libertarians do just that. It seems you have a beef with those who want to make choices differently than you.

They must band together, as a collective force. They must go on strike?

In a certain sense all human endeavors are collective. For example, a start-up company. You seek out others who share your commitment to a particular goal, then work together to accomplish that goal. So what? I work with all kinds of people in my daily life and in pursuit of my life goals. As long no coercion is involved, this is perfectly compatible with libertarianism.

One's body being the most private and precious of all property.

Of course. This is a tautology, especially with regards to bio-medicine and life extension.

I will say it again. There is no reason why like-minded individuals cannot live a "traditional" life in a libertarian society. It appears that your problem with libertarianism is not that it prevents you from living your own life, but that you can't force your choices onto others.

Kurt is suggesting that you can make society in general run along libertarian lines but within this society individuals could voluntarily associate to purse a traditional lifestyle together.

I want to point out a few of the problems with Kurt's suggestion. First, it does not allow for the preservation of real, historic nations of people. If the Poles, for instance, were to adopt Kurt's advice, they would not be able to say "we want to preserve our existing Polish identity at the state level, for instance, through immigration policy." You could not assert, at the public level, one thing over another as that would be "coercion" against individual preference. The best you could do would be for individual Poles to try to keep their tradition going by gathering together somewhere in Poland as part of a voluntary association.

In the meantime, you would have an influx of people into Poland not sharing the Polish identity or tradition and, most likely, being willing to use their resources and influence to make sure that the native tradition did not prosper. Would the little pockets, the little remnants, of Polish communities survive? Even if a few did, the effect of libertarianism would not be neutral - it would have forever impacted on the real existence of the Poles as a nation of people.

It's the same when it comes to family. A traditional society requires a stable form of family life. Libertarians, though, believe that family is whatever people choose it to be. Furthermore, libertarians see the family as a purely voluntarily association that people can choose to join or leave at any time and for any reason.

And so a traditionalist community would be radically countercultural within a libertarian society. It would require a massive undertaking by individuals without large-scale resources, to set up their own towns, schools, universities and mass media, where a traditionalist understanding of family could prosper in opposition to the libertarian one. In a sense, traditionalists would be creating their own society from scratch. It is a daunting prospect, that involves escaping libertarian norms, rather than one easily accomplished within a libertarian system.

And here's another issue. Libertarianism is not value neutral. Libertarianism rests upon a particular understanding of man and society that has evolved over time from a mishmash of intellectual influences. Kurt himself acknowledges that he agrees with "a model of society in which there are simply individuals in pursuit of their own self-interest (in particular their economic self-interest)".

So it is not possible for Kurt to claim that, in pushing for a libertarian model of society, he is not imposing his own world view on others. Libertarians are, in fact, imposing a very specific concept of man, his purposes, his relationship to others and the sources of meaning, value and human dignity. From these assumptions then flow the libertarian concept of how society should be organised politically.

Furthermore, once you accept the libertarian/classical liberal world view, then a particular kind of morality emerges, one that is inevitably held to seriously by the "thinkers" within such a society. For instance, if what matters is an untrammelled pursuit of individual self-interest by all, then it becomes critical that I do not in my own choices hinder or limit the choices of others. So the moral thing then becomes "non-interference" which leads to a moral system centred on attributes such as openness to the other, respect for diversity, non-discrimination, and tolerance. Particular loyalties, especially those based on inherited attributes such as race, sex, ethnicity - even culture - are thought of negatively as limitations, perhaps even "bigotry".

So a traditionalist community is once again going to be radically countercultural within a libertarian society. It is going to be countercultural at a deeper philosophical level, and, more immediately, in terms of the moral values of that society. The traditionalist community is going to be put in the position of having to resist the moral norms of the larger society, no easy task given the way that people generally conform to the leading ideas of the society they inhabit.

Finally, there is the issue of truth claims. If you set out to create a society with a multitude of religions and cultures, then it becomes difficult to hold to the deeper truth claims of any of them. To be part of one tends to become something like a "personal preference" or a "sentimental attachment" without a wider significance. The centre moves elsewhere, most likely to some sort of commercialised lifestyle and culture. In practice there is a hollowing out of the culture.

I remember the comment of one American classical liberal who forcefully insisted on cultures and religions being inconsequential:
Cultures and religions are either about weddings and music and fancy clothes or they're about to get their asses kicked...If all religions and cultures are equal then none is superior, and that is how we keep them in line.

Kurt, I hope you can understand from all this why I don't find the prospect of trying to maintain a traditionalist community within a libertarian system appealing. It is certainly not the ideal for traditionalists to aspire to. Nor does it make sense for traditionalists to accept the organisation of society according to a value system so much at odds with our own.