Sunday, December 31, 2017

Patrick Deneen: Why liberalism failed

Here's a positive way to end 2017. Patrick Deneen, an Associate Professor of Politics at Notre Dame, has written a book called Why Liberalism Failed. I have ordered it and will review it once it arrives. But from the publicity it is clear that Deneen has a political philosophy that is similar in parts to that of James Kalb and myself, as I hope you'll recognise from the excerpts of an online interview below. It's heartening to see this happening within academia, where it will hopefully have some influence.
Patrick Deneen

The first thing that Deneen usefully recognises is that Western politics is dominated by two variants of the same liberal philosophy. He calls them classical and progressive:
Camosy: When you say that “liberalism has failed,” you don’t mean that liberalism-as opposed to conservatism-has failed. Can you say more about what you mean by liberalism?

Deneen: By “liberalism,” I mean the political philosophy and the resulting political institutions, practices and beliefs that dominate the governments and societies of much of the western world. Its founding fathers were philosophers like John Locke, and in the United States, the architects of our Constitutional order. But I also include in their number those considered to be “progressives,” such as John Stuart Mill, or in the United States, John Dewey.

Most of our political debates pit “classical” against “progressive” liberal visions, holding the two views as diametric opposites and thus circumscribing the whole of our political imagination.

He also believes that liberalism has gradually unfolded over time, but that its very success has led to its failure:
What I seek to describe is a gradual but accelerating “realization” of a set of philosophical beliefs that have transformed practices, making us more fully liberal over time, and as a result, giving rise to a slow realization that its success leads to its own set of systemic failures. My thesis is that liberalism has failed precisely at the moment that it has succeeded

Deneen recognises that liberalism is not just a neutral position but an ideology based on a view of man as being an atomised, autonomous individual:
Camosy: Why do you think so many liberals fail to understand that liberalism, rather than a neutral political and ideological space, is a particular ideology and worldview?

Deneen: Liberalism has shrouded its substantive commitments behind a veil of neutrality, although some of its classical and contemporary philosophers and defenders are forthright about those substantive commitments...

...liberalism advances by positing the belief that humans exist in a state of nature as autonomous, disconnected, wholly free and rights-bearing creatures.

But what is claimed to be merely a description of human nature over time becomes an aim and goal of liberal society itself, gradually but ineluctably shaping people in the image of what it merely claims to describe. Thus, we increasingly see a liberal people defined by absence of interpersonal commitments, whether marriage, family, children, or memberships in longstanding cultures or a religious community.

Further, where commitments are taken on, they are subject to perpetual revision - whether through divorce in the matter of marriage, abortion in regard to children, or church shopping or the rise of “Nones” in the case of religion. Such people are driven above all by demands of consumption and money-making, claiming the right to self-definition while abandoning any longstanding cultural practices of self-limitation, which become increasingly regarded as unjust and unjustified limitations upon one’s freedom and autonomy.

More ironically still, a massive growth of the state is required to make this experience of individualism possible, thus enthralling purportedly free subjects to a pervasive political order.

He believes that Roman Catholic culture in the West is no longer clearly an alternative to liberalism, but tends to divide along classical vs progressive liberal lines:
Camosy: How have Roman Catholics-and even Roman Catholic moral and political theology-accepted certain aspects of liberal ideology? What might this mean for the Church as liberalism fails?

Deneen: Tragically, at least in America but perhaps more pervasively in the West, Catholicism has come increasingly to be defined by and experienced as the two political iterations of liberalism, whether “classical” or “progressive.” Rather than offering a distinct alternative, many Catholics have come to understand their faith through the lens of these dominant expressions of liberal philosophy.

...Catholicism rejects both anthropological individualism and collectivist statism, but today we are divided into Catholic tribes who by default advance one or the other as a central political project.

Deneen holds that liberalism has destroyed genuine cultures, which then have to be replaced more formally by state organisation, which then means that politics becomes a matter of contesting for the levers of the state. He wants in the longer term to return to more traditional, non-statist ways of life:
I argue in my book that liberalism advances an “anti-culture”: whether through blandishments of the market or the power of the state, it seeks to weaken and eviscerate culture and replace it with a homogenous anti-culture of “free” people who consume pre-packaged, monetized “popular culture,” but no longer live in actual cultures of memory and tradition.

Inasmuch as we see deep instability and forms of systemic failure in our politics, this dysfunction occurs not in spite of an otherwise healthy culture, but to a great extent because of the destruction of culture and its replacement with an anti-culture. As cultural norms, practices and forms of belonging are eviscerated, informal codes must be replaced by legal systems and state enforcement of legalized directives.

From what I've read so far, it is possible that Deneen will not go beyond the concept of "cultural communities," but I'll have more to say on this once I've read his book.

Regardless of this, I am hopeful that the book will have a very positive effect in breaking down the liberal hegemony within academia. It's so timely as well - there is an audience out there now for intelligent and principled criticisms of the liberal ideology.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

There is no brake

A reader had an interesting response to my last post. I had warned that part of the dissident right was made up of disaffected right-liberals who might act to corral the movement within a liberal politics. The reader said of this group:
These are the people who will try to convince you that the only problem with liberalism is that there are people who have pushed it too far.

The reader went on to argue that liberalism will always gravitate to extremes:
There is no such thing as moderate liberalism, or moderate feminism. Once you accept a mild version of these ideologies you will end up with the extreme version. Every single time. The very nature of these ideologies is that they are Utopian. They just have to keep pushing until Utopia is achieved. Once set in motion they cannot be stopped.

I think this is right. The way liberalism tends to work is that one generation takes it so far and then thinks that it has gone far enough. But their children grow up with the new liberal ways and notice that there are things that still don't fit in with a liberal concept of justice. So they push society further along the liberal path until they think things have gone far enough...and so on.

Liberalism will keep traveling in a certain direction, along a certain path, without stopping, because there is no brake built into it. Even if you managed to take it back a decade or so, it would come back again in much the same way.

If you are a liberal, and you want to maximise individual autonomy, you do so by opposing all the things that place limits on what an individual can choose to become or to do. This includes whatever is predetermined that influences our choices, such as an assertion of a binding moral code, or the sex or race we are born to, or even the nationality we inherit. For as long as these things matter (i.e. influence us in some way) there is, for a liberal, a social injustice to overcome.

Furthermore, if autonomy is the source of our human dignity, then it has to be accorded to everyone equally, otherwise we deny the human dignity of others. So if it can be shown that any one group, on the basis of predetermined qualities, suffers a disparity in any life outcome, then that too is for liberals a social justice that has to be overcome.

Which makes the liberal program a radical one from the outset, even if it is implemented gradually over time. And there is no way to draw a line in the sand beyond which liberalism will not venture, because that, for liberals, would mean allowing a "social injustice" to continue.

This means not only that liberals are willing to commit to major transgressions (erasing traditional nations, deconstructing the family, making our sex a personal choice rather than a biological reality), they will also seek out minor transgressions as well (e.g. getting upset if a boy plays with a truck and a girl with a doll).

It is all made worse by the belief that many liberals have that they are "immanentising the eschaton." These liberals believe that there is an end point to humanity, an end of history, when liberal social justice will reign, and the purpose and meaning of humanity will finally be realised. There are liberals who construct a quasi-religious sense of meaning and purpose from this, so it is very difficult for them to abandon this vision of an arc of progress of humanity toward its ultimate fulfilment, by saying "we have taken these principles far enough, they are now doing harm." If they were to acknowledge such a thing, the sense of purpose they have hung onto would collapse. It's not possible for these liberals to acknowledge the possibility that liberalism, taken too far, might do harm, as liberalism is supposed to take humanity right to its very end point. There can be no "too far".

All of which means that there cannot be an escape from liberal excesses. The liberalism we have is the liberalism we were always going to get.

Which means that there is no avoiding the political task of going back and rethinking the first principles on which our societies operate. We can do better, much better, than the liberal assertion that "freedom as autonomy" is the sole, overriding good. There are many goods to be upheld within a human community, and the task is to order them so that they fit together as well as can be managed.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Not a true outsider?

If you want the West to continue into the future in any recognisable form, then you have to be a political outsider - at least for the time being.

That's because the political establishment is committed to a liberalism that is dissolving of traditional society. 

In the past, the establishment got away with things by giving people the option of a liberal left or a liberal right. You could have passionate disagreement within the sphere of this choice. And it worked - hardly anyone ever left the inside of liberal politics.

But with liberal dominance came ever more radical consequences. Over the past few years an outside finally started to emerge. 

This has been wonderful to observe. But for some time I have expressed the concern that the outside was made up of two parts. There is a rank and file that genuinely wants to break from the liberal establishment. But there are also leading figures who are still right liberal by conviction and who only came to the outside because the very dominance of liberalism has made it intolerant and has increasingly placed limits on speech. These free speech right liberals want academic freedom, wish to take on the campus left, don't want to be bound by political correctness, and take individual responsibility seriously.

But they are still liberals. And the danger is that they will seem like courageous outsiders, which then gives them the opportunity to corral those who are drifting outside, to keep them within a liberal politics. You then end up with a controlled opposition.

To make my point clear, look at the following Tweet from Jordan Peterson:

Jordan Peterson is an intelligent man with a commanding manner. His presentations are interesting and often insightful. He has taken on the campus left, who in turn have strenuously attacked him.

So he seems like an outsider. But as he admits his real role is to corral those drifting outside, to bring them back to the centre - to the inside. In doing so, he is helping the West to stay on its current course - which means that the breakdown will only get worse.

The political outside (the "dissident right") will take a step forward when the prominent leaders are those who understand the need to reject liberalism itself in a principled way. I am optimistic that this will happen, but in the meantime we have to take care to distinguish the faux outside from the real thing.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The good course

The current Pope is not a great respecter of nations. He has, for instance, just recently proclaimed that illegal immigrants must have the right to remain, without detention and with full access to social welfare - which is in practice a call for open borders and mass flows of migration.

But it was not always so. In 1920 Pope Benedict was alarmed by the conditions in Europe in the aftermath of the First World War. He issued a motu proprio titled "Bonum Sane" or "The good course".

He identified a series of problems, including class conflict and a breakdown in family life. He believed that the war had had a negative effect on the family:
the sanctity of conjugal faith and respect for the paternal authority have been many people not so vulnerable because of the war; and because the distance of one of the spouses has slowed down the bond of duty in the other, and because the absence of a watchful eye has given the opportunity to inconsiderateness, especially female, to live on their own talent and too freely. Therefore we must find with real sorrow that now the public customs are much more depraved and corrupt than before...

It's a poor translation, but the gist of it seems to be that the war, in separating husbands and wives and making women more independent, harmed the sense of duty of the spouses to each other, allowed them (especially the women) to live too freely (i.e. without concern for the good of the family), and undermined respect for paternal authority.

But it is what follows on from this that is of most interest. Pope Benedict XV, concerned about the socialist upheavals in parts of Europe at this time in history, issued this warning:
Therefore we must find with real sorrow that now the public customs are much more depraved and corrupt than before, and that therefore the so-called " social question " has been aggravated to such an extent as to generate the threat of irreparable ruins. The advent of a Universal Republic, which is longed for by all the worst elements of disorder, and confidently expected by them, is an idea which is now ripe for execution. From this republic, based on the principles of absolute equality of men and community of possessions, would be banished all national distinctions, nor in it would the authority of the father over his children, or of the public power over the citizens, or of God over human society, be any longer acknowledged. If these ideas are put into practice, there will inevitably follow a reign of unheard-of terror. Already, even now, a large portion of Europe is going through that doleful experience and We see that it is sought to extend that awful state of affairs to other regions.

Pope Benedict XV believed that it was the "worst elements of disorder" that were pushing for the abolition of "all national distinctions". He connects this drive to abolish national distinctions to a demand for an "absolute equality of men" which doesn't stop at internationalism but has wider repercussions, also undermining family, church and society.

What is striking is that the Church in 1920 did not side with the forces of dissolution but set itself resolutely against them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tim Farron: the cure for liberal tyranny is liberalism?

Tim Farron was, until recently, the leader of the British Liberal Democrats. He is a serious Christian as well as a serious liberal. But he is starting to think that things are going wrong. Seriously wrong.

He gave a speech last month in which he acknowledged that liberalism has become an orthodoxy:
Liberalism has apparently won. Even members of the Conservative and Labour parties call themselves liberals today. Let’s be honest, you can’t work in the media without being a liberal. Even most of the journalists who write for the right wing press are in truth liberals.

Despite my best efforts, the Liberal Democrats have not won. But irrespective of my efforts, Liberalism has.

The problem for Tim Farron is that the dominance of liberalism has led it to impose itself on society to the point that it is becoming difficult to be a serious Christian:
My observation is that for many years now our culture has considered that the absence of faith is the neutral position, and that the holding of a religious faith is eccentric. In other words, an absence of faith is the standard assumption around which we build our social structures, and if you have a faith we will consider you to be eccentric in the whacky and harmless sense… so we will tolerate you, as long as you remain on the edges.

What appears now to be happening is that while the absence of faith is still thought to be the neutral position, holding a faith is only considered to be tolerably eccentric if it is merely cultural. But if your faith actually affects your world view in any way that puts it at odds with the mainstream, then your faith is considered to be malign and intolerable.

Tim Farron believes that modern liberalism is becoming a "respectable tyranny" and that,
my hypothesis today is that in this country and across the world, Liberalism will eat itself. Is eating itself. May already have eaten itself.

He notes too that liberal secularism leads to a narrow concept of human life, that it "reduces everyone down to either consumer or regulatory units...We’ve been atomised."

What is his solution? He argues that liberals should go back in time, to the liberalism of J.S. Mill, in which there would be a pluralistic society in which different world views would be tolerated. He also argues that Christianity in particular should be tolerated as liberalism rests on certain philosophical beliefs drawn from Christianity (i.e. that liberalism puts itself at risk if it discards Christianity).

I don't think he grasps the problem adequately in making these arguments. There is a logic to the core beliefs of liberalism which sets it at odds with Christianity.

The liberal starting point sounds OK for establishing pluralism. One of the core liberal beliefs, after all, is that individuals should be free to pursue their own goods as long as in doing so there is no interference with the right of others to do the same.

But to make this work it helps if liberals look on their preferences as being subjective or private. That way their preferences don't infringe on the validity of what others might choose. Let's say, for instance, that I choose as a man to marry a woman. If I am a liberal, it would be awkward if I asserted that this represents an objective good, i.e. a preference that is rightly ordered. If I were to do so it would suggest that marrying someone of the same sex is not a valid choice. I would be invalidating someone else's preferences and identity, a violation that would draw down on me the liberal moral reproach that I was being "bigoted" or "intolerant" or "prejudiced".

Similarly, it suits a liberal culture if there is thought to be nothing in the nature of reality itself to limit what I might choose to do or to be. That then means that these is less to limit my autonomous choice, which is a marker of human status and dignity for liberals. It is better from the liberal point of view if I am a blank slate so that I can be wholly the author of my own life. Better if there are 1000 sexes rather than just two. Better if race is just a social construct. Better if there is no natural law to constrain or to guide my moral choices.

Remember too that for liberals a progress toward a society where there is "equal freedom" to pursue our subjective goods is a matter of social justice, of equal dignity, of human flourishing, and of realising the ultimate ends of humanity. It is the source of hope, of liberation and of meaning. Many liberals will therefore think it offensive, or demoralising or deeply unjust if anyone violates liberal precepts. In particular, liberals will want to push forward with the liberal agenda, so that they can see "progress" being manifested in society. And "progress" will eventually catch up with those who are holding out.

So those initial core beliefs, which sound as if they might allow for pluralism, have an inner logic which drives toward an intolerance of whatever violates liberalism itself. The end result is that you can choose long as you choose liberalism.

And Christianity can't be made to fit easily into an acceptable liberal framework. After all, Christians do not see morality as merely a subjective preference. The Christian attitude is not that anything you choose is equally good, as long as it is not coerced. A Christian will assert instead that there is a moral order, external to the individual ("prior" to the individual) which provides the framework for our moral choices. We become free to the extent that we are not subject to moral evil.

Imagine if a Christian agreed to the liberal standard, and assented to the idea that moral choices are just subjective preferences, in which no matter what we choose we could just as morally have chosen something else. Surely that would be demoralising, in the sense that it would undermine Christianity as a serious belief about the nature of existence.

This does not mean that the only acceptable social framework for a Christian is a theocracy. Christianity existed for a long time with a distinct role allotted for church and state. But the concept of politics that would best fit with Christianity would be one in which a community recognised that men have a given biological, social and spiritual nature and that the aim is to best understand each of these and then attempt to integrate them into a way of life.

How to decide how to do this? Well, through the life of a community at different levels, including the political, over time. What would happen in practice is that a generation would inherit a particular tradition, i.e. an understanding of a way of life, and would then seek to influence it for the better, through a debate about philosophy and religion, through culture and education, through the care of parents for their children, and to some extent through reforms to governance and law.

Every community will make mistakes along the way. None will harmonise the different aspects of the nature of existence perfectly. It will always be a work in progress, with real improvement taking place over generations. The more a community gets it right, the more likely it is to establish solid foundations.

Liberalism doesn't allow the process to work well. How, for instance, can you try to encourage the better masculine qualities of men, and then integrate these into family and social life, if you start with the assumption that men are blank slates and that masculinity itself is a false and oppressive social construct? You never get out of the starting blocks, but are forced instead into low level debates about whether sex distinctions even exist and whether they should be tolerated if they do.

Tim Farron knows where things are heading. He can see that Christianity will be increasingly marginalised within liberal modernity. That it will be tolerated only if it becomes "cultural". He is wrong, though, to think that things can be put right by rewinding liberalism so that it becomes tolerant again. Liberalism will just spring back according to the logic of its first principles. If you repair it, it will set to work in a predictable way, just as it did before. It needs replacing.

Friday, December 08, 2017

The civic creed

There is a decent post up at AltRight on civic nationalism. A few excerpts:
On the surface, civic nationalism may seem right-wing. In reality, Civic Nationalism—the belief that a nation is not a people but a set of values—is hostile to the very essence of nationalism.

Civic Nationalism is not Nationalism, it is classical Liberalism...

Globalism is the radical left-wing of Liberalism while civic nationalism is the conservative “right-wing” of Liberalism. Both ideologies are grounded in the liberal myth of the tabula rasa, where mankind is no more than individual blank slates...

...Not only does civic nationalism deny the reality of race, it fails under its own premise. What are these “shared values” that unite us—Liberty, Equality, the Rule of Law? Does anyone believe this? Liberty and Equality are contradictory principles, often diametrically opposed. A nation defined by conflicting values is absurd.

The writer goes on to make an important point, namely, that the values that are coming to define the civic creed in America increasingly involve an anti-white animus. This is still contested, I think. There are still right-liberals who cling to the "we should be colour-blind and only see individuals." But over time a culture is taking hold in which embracing equality means accepting the idea of white privilege, diversity and open borders. Which means that if you are a white American, then the cost of seeing nationalism in civic terms is a high one. If you want to be "American" in terms of values, you will increasingly be expected to enthusiastically accept the role of "guilty transgressor of equality" whose only path to redemption is to respectfully listen to others who blame you for their ills, to meekly accept their demands and to positively accept your own displacement within the mainstream culture.

There is a video doing the rounds of an American mayor, distraught because one of her fellow councillors refuses to accept the white privilege mentality:

The article goes on to make some good points on another theme, namely the vast reach of the civic creed:
The great irony of liberalism is that it functions illiberally, unable to tolerate the ideological other. It is religious in nature, the proposition nation operates like a theocracy. The foundational values that form the basis of the civic nation become the “civic religion.”

In America, this civic religion has replaced Christianity.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Lauren Southern: how to be single

Just to mix things up a bit, here is Lauren Southern on the joys of being an empowered single woman:

Thursday, November 30, 2017

It goes back some way

Liberalism has dominated the English speaking countries for quite some time. I came across an interesting example of this from the Spectator magazine in 1935. This magazine has been mostly linked to the British Conservatives, but in the following excerpt the liberalism can be easily recognised.

The excerpt is from a reply to a speech by Rudyard Kipling. Kipling had argued in this speech "An Undefended Island" that something of the fighting spirit of the English had been lost due to the loss of a certain type of man in the Great War and that there was a risk that powers like Germany and Russia would rise in strength whilst the English remained complacent.

The Spectator writer argued in response that pacifism was in line with British values:
These questions may plausibly be put, but only if those who ask them are prepared to say what ideals, other than that of peace, but in accordance with traditional British virtues, are preferable...The more closely we examine the question the more we shall find that the qualities which we prize as being characteristically British cannot readily be manifested under the conditions of war...The prospect of war...leads to a demand in each country to be self-contained, and so to economic nationalism, trade restrictions, uneconomic production, and unemployment. It involves the exclusion of aliens and restriction on travel. These various consequences condemn each nation to a too self-dependent and therefore narrow existence, cut off from healthy intimacies with other people; and the general regimentation of life which follows when a strong central authority sets itself to prepare for war and organize economic supplies leads or tends to lead to dictatorship under which freedom and tolerance disappear.

The British people are in the main pacifist by temperament not only because they dread war itself, but because they value all the things which wars and threats of war destroy. The roots of modern pacifism lie far back in the history and character of the British people...In the past they have willingly granted asylum to aliens on British soil, partly because they believed that freedom of movement and trade were profitable, but partly also because their standards of conduct were based on a conception of the personal rights of every individual as an individual, and not merely as a Briton. Citizenship of the world is a notion which can be more easily entertained by the British than by other people. The conception of citizenship which can be widened out to include the native inhabitants of countries once subject and now becoming increasingly free makes us less insular than we once were, and certainly more ready to respect citizen rights in foreign countries.

This is the mindset of classical liberalism. Note how British values are defined in terms that could only in the long run undermine Britishness: citizenship of the world, citizenship widened out to those living in former colonies; granting citizenship to asylum seekers; freedom of movement; personal rights based on every individual as an individual and not merely as a Briton etc.

It clearly had an influence among Conservative Party types and you can understand from this why Britain changed so radically after WWII.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Accepting our monstrosity?

Below is a controversial tweet from the New York Times:

It is advertising an opinion piece by a Canadian writer, Stephen Marche. Most of the reactions to his piece have been along the lines of "this is liberal craziness." I actually believe it is worth reading, not because I agree with Marche, but because Marche is somewhat courageously highlighting a fault line within his own liberal belief system. It's worth trying to understand the point he is making.

Marche makes it clear that he has an extraordinarily negative view of male sexuality:
For most of history, we’ve taken for granted the implicit brutality of male sexuality... 

The masculine libido and its accompanying forces and pathologies drive so much of culture and politics and the economy, while remaining more or less unexamined, both in intellectual circles and in private life...

He goes on to add:
Women are calling for their pain to be recognized. Many men are quite willing to offer this recognition; it means they don’t have to talk about who they are, which means they don’t have to think about what they are.

So this is no surface issue. For Marche this is about something deeply troubling about who and what men are. He goes on to explain why he is so distressed about the nature of men:
Sex is an impediment to any idealism...What if there is no possible reconciliation between the bright clean ideals of gender equality and the mechanisms of human desire? 

So here is the crux of it. Marche is worried that sex does not fit in with liberal ideals of gender equality. And, of course, he is right to be worried, as the two are at odds. I'll deal with the contradiction a little further on. But here's something else that Marche gets right:
Meanwhile, sexual morality, so long resisted by liberals, has returned with a vengeance, albeit under progressive terms. The sensation of righteousness, which social media doles out in ever-diminishing dopamine hits, drives the discussion, but also limits it. Unable to find justice, or even to imagine it, we are returning to shame as our primary social form of sexual control.

This is interesting. Liberals have prided themselves on undermining the older restraints once placed on sexuality. But Marche himself feels ashamed of his own sexuality - and, in fact, if he wants to be a good liberal, then he should feel ashamed, because his own sexuality is inevitably at odds with liberal beliefs about sexual equality.

(I like, too, Marche's admission that liberals thrive on the "sensation of righteousness" doled out by social media, which gives a temporary dopamine hit.)

Marche finishes with this:
The crisis we are approaching is fundamental: How can healthy sexuality ever occur in conditions in which men and women are not equal? How are we supposed to create an equal world when male mechanisms of desire are inherently brutal? We cannot answer these questions unless we face them.

If you want to be a civilized man, you have to consider what you are. Pretending to be something else, some fiction you would prefer to be, cannot help. It is not morality but culture — accepting our monstrosity, reckoning with it — that can save us. If anything can.

He once again squarely faces the issue: male desire is inherently too brutal to fit in with liberal notions of sexual equality. He is not sure if anything can save us from this situation, but he thinks that morality won't do, only men "accepting our monstrosity, reckoning with it" is a tough enough response to the problem.

So what is this "monstrosity" that men have to reckon with? In the liberal ideal, there is no significant difference between men and women apart from the plumbing. Our sex, a predetermined quality, can be made not to matter. Men would simply see women as their "equals"in the sense of treating women the same that they would other men.

But sex is highly sexed. There are moments in sex when the connection to the opposite sex is felt profoundly and meaningfully. We respond to a woman in sex as the desired "other" - we become keenly aware of women as distinct from our own selves, to the point that we can feel that we are participating in a union, physical, emotional and spiritual, of two different expressions of life.

And it gets worse than this for liberals. There is an element in sex of men as the active and aggressive part and women as the responsive and receptive part. And there is an element in sex of men wanting to possess and to be potent.

And when it comes to desire and attraction, we think in terms of men who are commanding - of men who are muscular, self-confident, achieving, strong - with women being drawn to masculine power and status. Men, though, desire women for their softer feminine qualities and their beauty.

If you are a liberal wanting to make our biological sex not matter, how can this not be a problem? Stephen Marche is so upset by it all that he thinks of his own sexuality as monstrous and shameful. He is at war with himself for ruining the prospects of his own political idealism.

Marche could, of course, resolve his dilemma by reconsidering his political ideals in the light of the created nature of men and women. If it is not in the deepest nature of men and women to relate to each other under the terms demanded by liberalism, then perhaps it is liberalism which needs to be re-examined rather than declaring male nature to be monstrous.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Breaking the right way

Some encouraging news. The young women of the alt right are making up their minds on the national question and they are choosing to reject civic nationalism.

It began with a YouTube video by Lauren Rose which I have already posted on (here).

Then Faith Goldy posted the following tweet:

I find it interesting that civic nationalism has some emotional hold on her. I'm not sure why, as it seems emotionally empty to me. Instead of a deeper hold of shared ancestry, history and culture it is based instead on a shared allegiance to some wrongheaded liberal political principles - and in practice most Western nations don't even insist that new immigrants share these principles. Still, I have to accept that something about civic nationalism once appealed to her, but that she now recognises that there is no future in it, and that it leads to ethnocide.

The "coming out" of Lauren Rose and Faith Goldy emboldened the YouTuber "Blonde in the Belly of the Beast" to make the following thoughtful video explaining why she too has shifted away from civic nationalism:

Part of what motivated Blonde to make the video was her negative reaction to the following tweet by Jordan Peterson:

Peterson is good on many issues but this is straight out right-liberalism in which individualism is set against the evil of collectivism. I wish that Blonde had developed a point that she alluded to in her video, namely that this is a false opposition. If you support the individual, then you have to support healthy forms of collective life as well, because humans are in their natures social creatures who develop themselves most fully and readily through these forms of collective life.

The family is one obvious example. This is a collective, and not even a voluntary one. Nonetheless, it is how individuals experience maternal love and paternal guidance; it is how individuals are socialised through relationships with their siblings to have successful peer relationships; it is how individuals develop an appreciation for the efforts and achievements of past generations and part of how they form a commitment toward future generations; it is how men exercise masculine instincts to provide, to protect and to guide and how women exercise feminine maternal instincts; it is how individuals have the opportunity to experience enduring loving relationships that might endure into old age; it is how children experience the stability and "rootedness" that is part of creating an enduring resilience in later life....need I go on?

The right liberal opposition between the individual and the collective is a false one. Instead, the relationship between both has to be ordered the right way, so that individuals uphold the necessary forms of collective life, and make some sacrifices to do so, but without the dignity and significance of individual life being denied by the collective.

Does it not make sense, for instance, for an individual to make some sacrifices on behalf of family, if this is such an important institution in the life of the individual? The real point here is not to deny the importance of family as a collective, but to try to arrange things so that the individual sacrifice is worthwhile, i.e. to arrange things to that there is a viable and healthy culture of family life.

Blonde focuses on a different issue in her video. She notes that in practice it is only whites who are pressured to follow the idea of existing only as individuals, without a collective identity or a collective interest, whereas others are allowed to organise effectively as collectives. This leaves whites defenceless and unable to uphold any right to a future existence - or even to defend themselves against the aggressive politics that is increasingly being directed against them.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Inspirational Orbán

One nation that is holding out against its own dissolution is Hungary. Its Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, gave a speech this week to a congress of his political party, Fidesz. It is, in the main, one of the great inspirational speeches from a major political leader.

I say this, even though it is difficult to categorise his speech politically. Is he a Christian and nationalist right-liberal? Or a traditionalist? At the very least, he is shifting the Overton window back toward something close to a traditionalist politics.

One reason I hesitate to label Orbán a traditionalist is that he excludes race as a foundation of national identity. I have written before (here and here) that I disagree with those who think that a communal tradition can be founded on racial self-interest alone. Orbán goes entirely the other way. He provides a rich foundation for a communal identity, but excludes what realistically ought to be there, namely a common ancestry.

I will now hand over to the extraordinary Hungarian PM:
...we should realise that the spirit of the age is not the same as the prevailing media trend. We should realise that the soothing melodies pouring out of the speakers of powerful global corporations and global political organisations – siren voices encouraging breezy irresponsibility, frenzied consumption and boundless self-indulgence – are not at all the same as the spirit of the age. Under the soft blanket of dreams laid down by the global elite, one finds the cold, hard reality of life. We see tens of millions of Europeans working hard and struggling day in, day out to keep themselves and their families afloat. We see how they yearn for security and order. We see how they cleave ever more firmly to their cultural identity, and fight every day for every square metre of their normal European life. This is the true spirit of the age. So we should refocus our vision, and we’ll see that in fact the spirit of the age is on our side: it is on the side of hardworking and responsible Europeans who provide for their families, love their homelands and insist on their Christian roots. We are in a majority – in an overwhelming majority. It is only a question of time, and we shall prevail not only in Hungary, but in the whole of Europe; indeed, we shall prevail in the entire Western world.

This is also well understood by globalist elites, the bureaucrats who serve them, the politicians in their pay, and the agents of the Soros-type networks that embody their interests. They understand it well, and therefore they’ve invented the magic word “populism” to describe all that is national, popular, Christian and civic. But they repeat this magic word in vain, their incantations are in vain, and their political voodoo is in vain: reality, flesh-and-blood people, real-life instincts, real human desires, dreams and hopes will conquer the globalist elite still ruling Europe today. And they will make Europe – and within it Hungary – great again. Of course not all of this is self-evident: this is not Marxist historical materialism, in which world history has an inevitably predestined goal. There will be a battle here. Will be? There already is! And in this battle the European debates of the next decade will centre on identity: the identities of people, of peoples, of countries, and even of continents.

...But there’s a new, modern genre of politics which has never been seen before. At the centre of this stands the individual who is wrenched out of their cultural, national, religious and gender identity, and reduced to an aggregation of their instincts. This new type of human being for a new age is the embodiment of “Homo brusselicus”. Drawing on our experience, we should declare our conviction that in Europe policies which set aside the natural order of life and deny national communities the right to life – regardless of the educational sophistication and moralising good intentions of those policies’ authors – have always led to barbarism. We should declare that to our mind the most important bond between human beings – beyond the laws of biology – is the spiritual bond which we call “nation”, and which elevates us all to participants in a shared culture and shared tradition. And we should also declare that we have inherited a unique and great national culture. Our national culture makes us what we are. Our national culture means that to this day Hungarians have the ability to face the truth, the capacity for self-respect and self-awareness, and can also understand their situation and mission. We believe that the Hungarian spirit can support anything and survive anything. As our ancestors said: “It sometimes loses its voice, but it does not die”. This spiritual and intellectual strength enables us to bravely address and calmly consider answers to the questions which terrify others, as they tower over our wider motherland of Europe. Our great forebears knew this and wrote about it. And in those days it was even customary to say that this unique Hungarian spirit – and the Hungarian way of thinking stemming from it – created the possibility for the Hungarians to live among civilised peoples. And it was also this that gave us the moral strength without which a lonely people such as ours, swept here from faraway lands, would hardly have been able to survive for a thousand years. How could we possibly give this up?

My Friends,

...There is only one way that European unity can survive: if we accept one another’s differences; if we show mutual respect for one another; and if, instead of a United States of Europe, we create a free alliance of European nations. There is no other way.

And now I’d like to talk about what we should protect and why. It is well known that we Hungarians have no desire for empires – and especially not for their viceroys. We don’t like it when imperial viceroys seek to determine the fate of the nation instead of us. Today an empire is threatening us once again. We stand in the way of a plan which seeks to eliminate nations, and seeks to create a Europe with a mixed population. We stand in the way of a financial and political empire which seeks to implement this plan – at whatever cost. Let’s not beat about the bush: in order to implement the “Soros Plan”, across the whole of Europe they want to sweep away governments which represent national interests – including ours. In recent years Soros’s NGOs have penetrated all the influential forums of European decision-making. They are also present in the backyards of some Hungarian parties. They operate like the activists of the Department for Agitation and Propaganda of the old Soviet Communist Party. We old war horses recognise them by their smell. Although the Soros troops use somewhat more refined methods, they nonetheless want to tell us what to do, what to say, what to think – and even how we should see ourselves. For a long time the situation was simple and clear: there were men and women, mothers and fathers, Hungarians, Germans or Russians – and Christians or Muslims, for that matter. Today they want to force us into a world in which these natural and clear outlines have been erased. Such a world has no definite points of reference, it is unclear who is a man and who is a woman, what family is, and what it means to be Hungarian and Christian. They are creating a third gender, they are ridiculing faith, and they regard families as redundant, and nations as obsolete.

Let’s speak to the point. Migration is not the goal of the Soros Plan, but merely its means. Millions of people in desperate situations in Africa and the Middle East are being encouraged to come to Europe; indeed they are even being transported here, in order to debilitate nations and deliver the coup de grâce to Christian culture. Let’s also talk candidly about the fact that the Soros Plan also seriously endangers the security of our everyday lives. In Europe’s immigrant countries, acts of terrorism have become regular occurrences, crime rates are increasing, violence against women has escalated, and anti-Semitism is emerging again. This is what we must prevent, and this is the threat against which we must defend the country. So when we say that we must defend Hungary, we declare that we must defend work, our families, security, the authority of our laws, our achievements and Hungarian culture. And we must also defend our future. What we did not tolerate from the Soviet Empire we shall not tolerate from the Soros Empire. We shall defend our borders, we shall prevent implementation of the Soros Plan, and eventually we shall win this battle.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

One reason we lose

So a portion of the alt lite is now trying to police the use of transsexual pronouns. They are insisting that Blaire White, a biologically male YouTuber, be called "she" and be considered a woman.

Roaming Millennial, for instance, claimed that because Blaire White "passes perfectly as a woman" that she should be considered one. Rita Panahi is similarly insisting that Blaire White be called "she".

The situation, then, is that liberals assert something very radical, namely that our sex is not something biologically predetermined, but that you can have a male body and be a woman. The mainstream right, which builds support by claiming to be the opposition to the left, comes to embrace the leftist position and helps to entrench it.

And the question is why? In part, it's because much of the mainstream right, even the alt lite, is right liberal rather than a genuine alternative. But it goes further than this.

Liberals are believers. For them, liberalism is about building freedom and equality and justice and is leading humanity to its ultimate end point of moral perfection. They accept that all this might take time, but they do not like setbacks, and if they do ever lose, they just keep pushing back until they win. They are serious.

The right are players. They see themselves as being on "team right" as part of the political "game". They have "concerns" about aspects of leftism. But it doesn't run much deeper than this. If they are accused of not being nice, they will collapse their principles.

Is it not obvious why society moves leftward over time?

It doesn't have to be like this. The right should be something very different. The right-wing personality should not see politics as a game but as a defence of truth, of the good, and of a natural order of being that is the real source of an enduring moral community. When this is assaulted, then the right ought not only to match the tenacity of the left, but have an even greater determination to push back and to win.

Clarity matters, but so too does seriousness. Some of the leaders of the movement are players. They do not really know what they are defending and how significant the cause is. They will collapse all this in order to show themselves to be "nice" or "respectful" which only really proves how unserious they are. They cannot match the left when it comes to belief in what they stand for.

Clarity and seriousness are necessary to match it with the left and to hold to the same long-term political tenacity.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A rich vein of insight into the liberal mind

Lisa Wade is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Occidental University in the United States. She is a leftist feminist who worries about the direction of America under President Trump. Her article on this is interesting, not only for the radical conclusions it draws but also for its insight into the liberal mind.

Before I begin on her article, though, I thought it useful to point out the way the Lisa Wade defines feminism. I have previously argued that feminism is liberalism applied to the lives of women. Lisa Wade agrees:
When prompted to define feminism, Wade answered that she considers feminism to be “the desire that our choices in life and feelings about ourselves are dictated by who we are, not our sex.”

“I just want everyone to be themselves,” she said.

Liberals have this worldview in which being a man or a woman is not being ourselves, because these are predetermined qualities and the liberal individual is supposed to be an autonomous, self-determining individual. So being a man or a woman is not supposed to matter. As masculinity and femininity imply that we are influenced in who we are by our sex, they too are thought of negatively as "prisons" or "limitations" that not only curtail our freedom, but in the leftist view have an even more sinister role of enforcing privilege and inequality.

Which brings us to Lisa Wade's article. She begins by noting that liberals have a faith in an arc of moral progress:
The first thing that must go is the belief among progressives that we are on some fateful journey to a better place. We know that America’s grand democratic vision of “all men are created equal” didn’t initially include all men, or any women, and that we have never granted the promised equality. Yet many of us still hold fast to the idea that America is a great nation, managing the cognitive dissonance by envisioning the country as on a journey toward perfection. As Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, echoing the abolitionist Theodore Parker, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

It is important to take this in. It is an example of how Western intellectuals "immanentize the eschaton." Rather than seeing history as recording the rise and fall of civilisations, with each civilisation struggling to avoid its decline, the leftist/liberal believes that he is participating in and helping humanity progress towards its ultimate end point of moral perfection. He believes that such a thing is possible and that it gives meaning to history and to those pushing the way forward to "social justice." This helps to explain the sometimes cult like nature of Western liberalism, in which individuals cling to a set of beliefs that to an ordinary observer would seem self-destructive.

But here's the catch. This faith in progress depends on society heading ever further along liberal lines toward the bringing down of men and of whites as "privileged" classes. But the success of President Trump shows that progress is not running in the direction it is supposed to. Therefore, thinks Lisa Wade, the older half measures adopted by the progressive left have to be jettisoned, as they aren't powerful enough to keep the revolution on track.

According to Lisa Wade, the liberal left once thought it sufficient, to achieve equality, for men to adopt their feminine half and women their masculine half:
Implicit in the metaphor is the idea that we will have reached gender equality when men and women alike embrace both halves of their humanity: masculinity and femininity. As a nation, Hochschild argued, we are halfway there. To fully revolutionize gender relations, we just need to get moving again.

Thirty years is a long life for a metaphor, and it’s still here because it’s been useful and descriptive, reflecting a lived reality. But we are in Trump’s America now. The metaphor of the stalled revolution, however useful it has been, posits a linear past and future. It assumes that stall is equivalent to stasis: that we are still in the driver’s seat, the path is still there, and we’re still aiming at something good. The metaphor doesn’t allow for the possibility that the world has shifted around us, setting us on a path that we may no longer want to be on. It certainly doesn’t contain the prospect that we are—that we have been—moving toward something terrible.

Lisa Wade senses (hopefully correctly) that the revolution has not just stalled, but that there is a reaction taking place in society. So the assault on the privileged class, namely males, can't any longer be anything so "soft" as "embrace your feminine half and become androgynous." No, it has to be something sterner, it has to be a total rejection of and attack on masculinity in its entirety:
The quaint balance of masculinity and femininity that the metaphor promised is no longer desirable, if it ever was. Instead of advocating that women compete with men on masculine terms and men mix in just enough femininity to distance themselves from the most toxic versions of masculinity, we need to start being honest about what being a man has come to mean. Trump’s rise has made it terrifyingly clear that his toxic version is not at all peripheral to 21st-century modern masculinity. It is central. It is authoritarian. And it is lethal.

If we’re going to survive both President Trump and the kind of people he has emboldened, we need to attack masculinity directly. I don’t mean that we should recuperate masculinity—that is, press men to identify with a kinder, gentler version of it—I mean that we should reject the idea that men have a psychic need to distinguish themselves from women...

In fact, we should be as suspicious of males who strongly identify as men as we are of white people who strongly identify as white...

We are here in Trump’s America in part because we have been too delicate in our treatment of dangerous ideas. The problem is not toxic masculinity; it’s that masculinity is toxic...It’s simply not compatible with liberty and justice for all.

If we are going to finish the gender revolution, then, we need to call masculinity out as a hazardous ideology and denounce anyone who chooses to identify with it.

People wonder why the West has gone the way it has. I would point out that one reason is that our intellectual class has adopted the worldview set out here by Lisa Wade. She isn't hiding anything, she has laid it all out for us.

It is not easy for an intellectual to give up what is effectively a quasi-religion. I would hope, though, that as the decline becomes ever more obvious that an increasing number of Western intellectuals will query the idea that liberalism is a philosophy that leads to social or moral progress.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Girls & gridiron

Kellogg's is pushing for more American girls to play American football. The campaign is not supported by D.C. McAlister. Her effort to explain why is, I think, well done.

Her first argument is that football has traditionally been a male space that boys need for their own development:
First of all, why in the name of “equality” do women insist on invading man spaces? There is a camaraderie among boys that is necessary for their development as men, and this is fostered in all-boy sports. It’s a kind of initiation into manhood — something that must be done by men in a male-only environment. Injecting females into the mix dilutes the experience, robbing boys of training in masculinity and male bonding that they desperately need.
The loss of male spaces has had a significant effect on society. When you put boys together in schools, or sporting clubs, or cadets, then some of the distinctively male moral instincts begin to emerge, such as loyalty, courage, strength and honour. Society is impoverished when these are no longer generated within male spaces and so wither away.

Her second argument is one that I have made myself in arguing against women in combat roles. It is contradictory to train men to be physically aggressive/violent towards women in sports, but then to expect them to see physical violence towards women as abhorrent and unmanly:
Second, I find it ironic that in a time when we’re hearing a lot about domestic violence (especially by football players), sexual harassment, and sexual assault, we have no problem training and encouraging boys to plow down girls on a football field. It’s insane...

But it’s a sport, some might say. Just a game — no big deal. Such a response ignores the power of sports in developing our character and our psychology...

...When you put a girl on a football field, you are training boys to go against their natural (and good) instincts not to hit girls. Part of growing as a man is to learn how to properly treat women, to protect, respect, honor, and cherish them. Not to beat the crap out of them in sports or anywhere else.

Her third arguments is that having girls play violent sports with boys disrupts the sense of complementarity between the sexes:
You are teaching the boy that women don’t need men to protect them — or worse that they can be just as aggressive with women as with men. And you are teaching the girl that she doesn’t need a man. That she’s strong all on her own, if not stronger than a man, and that she doesn’t need a damn thing from him.

This rips apart the fabric of our society as men and women no longer complement each other but compete against each other. Instead of benefiting from each other’s strengths and supporting each other in our weaknesses, we are fostering a hyper-individualistic mindset that says, “I don’t need you!”

Converting from civic nationalism

Traditionalists are ethnic rather than civic nationalists. We believe that a "people" becomes so through a shared ancestry, history, language and culture. Liberals are either civic nationalists or else internationalists. The civic nationalism that dominates most Western countries claims that anyone can become a citizen as long as they assent (at least during the citizenship process) to some liberal values. Civic nationalism usually involves mass immigration from around the world, as it permits anyone to claim national membership - there are no limits to who is eligible.

Lauren Rose is an American YouTuber. I don't know much about her politics, but she is articulate in explaining why she abandoned her belief in civic nationalism.

If you'd like to read more on this topic, there is a chapter of my e-book which goes into more detail here.

Monday, November 06, 2017

He's be happy if his daughters changed sex?

Tim Lott is a Guardian columnist. One of his offerings is a piece titled "Why I'd be happy for my daughters to change gender." That's a radical assertion given what a sex change involves, and Lott does acknowledge that there would be significant hurt involved:
How would I feel if one of my daughters turned out to feel she were a male, and wanted surgery to reassign her identity?

I would, admittedly, be worried that this might cause her physical and mental distress.

So why then be happy? He explains this way:
All the same, I am perfectly happy, in the liberal tradition, that people should have any gender identity they want, or any sex that they want...

It is clear that from the hysterical reaction to Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? by elements of the rightwing press, that transphobia is a real enough phenomena. So to be clear I am not in favour of simply tolerating it – the idea of gender fluidity should be thoroughly welcomed, for all its complications, as an extension of the range of human possibility.

It's Liberalism 101. What matters to Tim Lott is an individual freedom to pursue our subjective wants, i.e. a freedom to self-determine who we are, rather than being bound to predetermined qualities like the sex we are born to or to our natural telos (ends/purposes) as men and women.

However nice it might sound, Lott's liberalism leads to a grotesque outcome. He feels obliged to announce that he would be happy if his daughters went through a shocking medical procedure and spent their lives as biological women identifying as men. It's an extraordinary thing for a parent to announce their happiness at such an outcome.

The emphasis can never be on unlimited subjective wants. That's not how you arrive at the best kind of individual life. It's better to think in terms of a life that is successfully ordered or integrated, which then gives us the opportunity to stand above our desires and to judge their merits and how they might or might not deserve to be acted on.

When Wonder Woman goes SJW

The image below is from a recent Wonder Woman (issue 30) comic book (you might have to click on it twice to make it legible):

One part of our culture is still tumbling leftward. The "bad guy" in the comic is standing up for an ideal of women as feminine and sweet and he also opposes the disempowerment of men. The rainbow coalition opposing him complain that this is "mansplaining" and one of the women punishes him for this by punching him in the face.

I was curious as to who might have written something like this. The writer credited with the story is Shea Fontana. She has a Twitter account which gives you some idea of her personality:

Clearly, Shea is nothing like a tough Amazonian warrior. From reading her Twitter feed she seems to be very much oriented to a feminine world of children, pets, home, fashion, and things which appeal to her as being cute.

And yet she wrote a comic book story in which the man who defends this aspect of womanhood gets beaten up as a "mansplainer".

So there is a disjuncture here between the person she really is and the views that she promotes in her work. It seems that you can be a feminine woman in your personal life, but publicly you must defend the "wonder woman" ethos of tough, independent warrior woman.

I will simply point out that this is another fail within liberal culture. The one thing that liberalism promises is that you can "be who you want to be" but the reality is that there are things you are supposed to be in a liberal culture that individuals are under significant pressure to assent to. And in such a culture you are not supposed to be a feminine woman or a masculine man (as you are not supposed to follow predetermined sex roles).

It seems to me to be a low act to promote to young girls a view of womanhood that you yourself do not, and would not, choose to follow in your own private life.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Sketching manhood

What makes up the inner life of men? I would argue that there are at least three major aspects of this inner life. 

The first is a focus on building strength. This can be physical strength, as measured by muscularity, speed, skill and endurance. But it can just as readily involve the building of self-discipline; the exercise of control over emotional reactions; or an ability to exercise good judgment. Success can be measured by demonstrating prowess or mastery in some field of endeavour, particularly when this requires strength of character.

The second is the drive to gain, or retain, honour, reputation and integrity. The place of honour is less prominent than it once was, most likely because it is cultivated within masculine spaces that no longer exist. Even so, I can recall at the boys school I attended that there was an unwritten code of honour that was very effective in encouraging an unflinching attitude to life. And, even today, most men would still have a sense of dishonour in, for instance, gross acts of cowardice. Social reputation is also less important than it once was, perhaps because we live in large, anonymous cities. It is still the case, though, that men do not want to be shamed within groups that matter to them - they want to keep their reputation unblemished. Integrity is, perhaps, the most important as we carry this with us always and as it relates to standards of who we are, and how intact we are, as moral creatures.

Finally, there is the experience of being responsive, connected and committed in our lives. This is the "poetic" experience of life in which we find a transcendent meaning in the beauty of women, or in our responsiveness to nature, or in the arts and architecture, or in our faith, or in our connectedness to people and place. We perceive there to be significant goods in life, which then inspire love and which then draw from us our deeper commitments, including a sense of duty to protect, to uphold and to serve, and to fulfil our social roles, whether these are directed to our family (as husband and father) or to our larger communal tradition.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Feminists losing the terf war

It doesn't matter how outlandish a liberal innovation might seem, if it fits with liberal principles then it will be pushed onto society regardless - if, that is, there is no effective opposition to liberalism itself.

Here's an interesting example. There is a push on now to have people accept the idea that men can give birth to children. It is beginning to become politically incorrect to talk about "pregnant women" as this excludes women who identify as men but who nonetheless get pregnant.

Seems kooky, but look at the following Facebook thread:

This is a debate between radical feminists who insist that you need to be biologically female to be a woman (they are called "terfs") and other leftists who reject this as "transphobic."

The significant part of the debate is that a professional organisation for midwives (the Midwives Alliance of North America) has already committed itself to the idea that men can give birth ("suggesting that only women can give birth is not welcome here").

The midwives association repeated this view in another thread:

The "terfs" who insist that being a woman is based on biological reality are warned by the midwives alliance that "comments that say that men can't give birth are transphobic and will not be tolerated."

There is so much that could be said about this. The twistedness of liberal morality is apparent in this discussion. Liberal morality is built on the idea that we should be free to choose our identity and our own subjective goods, but that we should allow others to do the same. Therefore, there is no objective moral order for individuals to orient themselves to, but instead the point of morality is to show how tolerant you are of others choosing as they will.

But it all gets mired in a contradiction. On the one hand, if a woman declares that she identifies as a man you are supposed to be tolerant and accepting of her decision to identify this way. But this then means that someone who points out, as a basic fact of reality, that there is a biological aspect to being a woman, will be told curtly that their speech will not be tolerated. So a morality of "tolerance" ends up being, by all previous standards, remarkably intolerant.

You can tell that if things go as they usually do that the terfs will lose this battle. If, as per liberalism, we are to be free to self-determine our own identity and pursue our own subjective goods, then it is difficult in principle to say to someone biologically female that they can't identify as a man and become a "pregnant male." To oppose this is, in liberal terms, bigoted, prejudiced, phobic, hateful, discriminatory and all the rest of it.

In the past, the only opposition to the liberal left came from the liberal right (the "establishment conservatives"). The liberal right would sometimes initially oppose these kinds of things (as "going too far") but once they got traction, then the right liberals would fold and would eventually end up defending the new status quo.

It's interesting now to see something different emerging. There's a section of the alt right which is now doing what a genuine opposition would have done decades ago, and actually push back in a determined way against the left liberal project. It is still too small to win in the wider society, but it is carving out a political space where the older dynamic no longer runs as it used to.

So perhaps we won't see, in a few years time, a liberal speech code outlawing the use of the term "pregnant woman" as hate speech. Maybe the usual pattern of politics will continue to lose ground.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Jordan Peterson - the path is narrow

I've posted below a short video of a lecture by Jordan Peterson. It is bracingly countercultural. The liberal assumption is that we live in an existential vacuum in which we are free to choose in any direction. Jordan Peterson's experience as a clinical psychologist is that this is not so, and that there is a moral order that the individual cannot transgress without consequences:

Joep Beving

The top two positions in the Australian classical music chart are held by a living composer, the Dutchman Joep Beving. It's such a rare event that I thought I would share a video of one of his compositions:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cardinal Sarah defends homelands and cultures

Cardinal Sarah, who hails from Guinea in Africa, has given a speech in Poland supporting that country's stand against open borders:
Every nation has a right to distinguish between genuine refugees and economic migrants who do not share that nation’s culture, Cardinal Robert Sarah has said.

Speaking at the Europa Christi conference in Poland on Sunday, the African cardinal noted that the country refuses to accept the “logic” of migrant redistribution that “some people want to impose”.

In comments reported by Polish magazine Gosc, Cardinal Sarah added that while every migrant is a human being who must be respected, the situation becomes more complex if they are of another culture or another religion, and imperil the common good of the nation.

This is at least tending toward the reformed refugee policy that I have long advocated: that there should be a common fund to finance refugee resettlement, but that to avoid economic migration and to protect existing cultures, refugees should be resettled in the nearest safe country that is most similar in terms of both living standards and culture/ethnicity.

The most striking comment made by Cardinal Sarah was this:
The ideology of liberal individualism promotes a mixing that is designed to erode the natural borders of homelands and cultures, and leads to a post-national and one-dimensional world where the only things that matter are consumption and production.

The quote deserves to be read carefully, as it clearly suggests that Catholics not only can, but ought to, defend "the natural borders of homelands and cultures."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

When the world turns

I saw the following tweet a few days ago that sums up perfectly the liberal attitude to our biological sex:

It's got everything in the space of a tweet.

The liberal starting point is a belief that what gives life meaning or dignity is a freedom to self-determine who we are (identity) and to pursue what we will (subjective goods). Therefore, as a logical follow on, our predetermined qualities (our sex, our race, our ethnicity) are thought of negatively as limits on our freedom.

Free yourself, shouts the liberal, from your manhood or womanhood, from traditional roles, from moral norm and standards, from your communal tradition, from your history and culture, from sexual complementarity, from traditions of beauty in the arts and architecture, from your faith. Strip yourself bare and be free! Be illimitable!

But the liberal cry is a dissolving one that makes us and what we have in common smaller, less meaningful and increasingly marginalised.

And there are people who are tiring of it. Youssef Sarhan's tweet drew over 3000 comments, nearly all of them critical. The world is turning, at least a little, away from liberalism as an orthodoxy.

Below is a selection of the responses to Youssef Sarhan. Some were from men, but many were written by women in defence of manhood:

One response had an interesting philosophical angle:

There's something to this. It is more usual to accept that we have a created nature and to seek to complete this to its highest and most developed form and to enact it within, and for the benefit of, a human community. If we reject this, as "limiting," we are suggesting that we can remake reality, and do so better than what we were, by nature, created to be. It suggests that we are not creatures existing as part of an order of reality, but uncreated and outside of it, like gods of the spheres. There is a hubris to this, alongside the loss of what is to be found when we are placed within a meaningful order of reality, rather than lost outside of it.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Another step in the descent of liberal culture

There have been a couple of images doing the rounds lately on social media. The first is of a satanic-style drag queen reading books to young children in a public library in the U.S.:

The second is of a poster being displayed at train stations in Toronto, Canada, with the campaign title "The sex you want" and showing a picture of a homosexual threesome:

The instinctive reaction most people will have is that exposing children to these images is an attack on their childhood. And yet public authorities clearly believe the opposite - that it is either a good thing, or at least harmless, for the images to be displayed to children.

I understand the position of the public authorities, even if I think it is wrong. The liberal idea, dominant in our society, is that the individual autonomously determines his own goods and identity. But, as all desires are equally desires, they all have to be acknowledged as equally valid, as long as they don't claim primacy over others (which, for liberals, is the sin of "supremacy" or discrimination, intolerance, bigotry etc.) So the public authorities, following this liberal credo, don't really have a principled way to object to the imagery, without exposing themselves to charges of hypocrisy or inconsistency or lack of principle.

It seems we are witnessing another step down in liberal culture. Liberal culture had previously compromised by rating materials for their sexual content and allowing parents some control over what their children were exposed to. Apparently the aim of being inclusive toward transsexual and homosexual culture (making it normative) is now overriding the older compromise - it is now thought progressive to habituate children to these things.

And yet there is damage being done. The message being given to children is that sexuality is to be freely pursued in any direction and that there are no sexual impulses to be restrained or held in check. They are being exposed to forms of sexuality that are at the end point of what happens when restraints or modesty or checks give way.

This is especially problematic for those children who will later seek to form heterosexual relationships. Within homosexual culture, it does not matter so much if the emphasis is on fleeting sexual encounters for their own sake. But a heterosexual culture can't work this way. A heterosexual culture has the more difficult aim of bringing together men and women for stable, monogamous pairing, with the aim of raising children successfully and carrying on an intergenerational family tradition. This requires both men and women to integrate the sexual aspects of their relationship with other purposes relating to the good of children, family and society.

In short, sexuality has to be ordered toward higher purposes. A man cannot just follow his libido if he is to commit to a lifelong role of husband and father within a family and secure the material well-being of his wife and children and help to socialise his children toward a successful adulthood of their own. Similarly, a promiscuous woman damages her ability to pair bond with a man and to form a respectful and loving emotional relationship with a future husband.

If children are allowed to mature without being precociously sexualised, and within a culture that orients them toward marriage and family, then they are likely to reach early adulthood without having lost the innate qualities that might allow them to successfully pair bond with a person of the opposite sex.

And that's the sense in which we instinctively believe that it is possible for children to be corrupted, and that children need to be protected from certain types of sexualised content. We don't want our children to lose what is supposed to be intact within them, emotionally and psychologically, that allows them to successfully marry. It is our job to at least get them to independent adulthood, and the age of marriage, without this having been lost.

This requires not only good parenting, but also agreed upon social norms and standards within public life. And this is where liberalism is increasingly undermining the role of parents in the raising of their children.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Building up our houses

I've often thought that one thing missing in modern life is older women passing down healthy social mores to younger women (what can you pass down when the social creed is "do whatever you will"?).

So I was pleased to see an example (via Dalrock) of a woman trying to pass on some good advice about marriage to other women. Her name is Heidi Stone, and I know little about her except that she appears to be an American Protestant Christian.

She begins by noting how many marriages are failing in her social circle. She then points out to her female readers that divorce often does not lead to a happy future relationship:
Remarriage for women, as we age, becomes less and less likely. Should we get started talking about the cost of child support? On both sides? What about how alimony can financially cripple either party’s ability to provide for a second family. It doesn’t happen or it takes too much of the paycheck.

Simply? It makes sense to just stay married. Especially for us, ladies. Especially for us.

That’s you and me, darlin’. You and me. We’ve already invested our perky selves, baby-making hips, and the “looks cute in a two-piece” years. We’ve given them to the man we wake up to and the children we make dinner for and unless we are careful, that investment might not pay off.

I know I want to reap the rewards of that investment.

I’ve earned those rewards. There is no way I want to jeopardize where I end up and how I live because I didn’t have the courage or willingness to pursue my marriage and family with integrity now. Before the hurricanes and menopausal tornadoes.

See, to be blunt, we don’t fare well in the re-marriage market as only 25% of women who are divorced in their 30’s-40’s actually remarry. Men will generally marry at a rate closer to 50% but, even then, they aren’t looking at our Match.Com profiles. They tend to marry women far younger than themselves the second time and, well, that rather gives a raspberry to both our aging marketability and our chances at second time marital bliss.

So only 25% of women who divorce in their 30s and 40s will remarry, and only 7% of single women aged over 50 will ever even cohabit again with a man:
The people most unlikely to find a partner and settle into a new long-term relationship are women aged over 50, with only 7 per cent moving in with a partner.

If a woman "invests" her youthful beauty and fertility in marriage, then she maximises her chances of being in a loving relationship with a man in her later decades (in the second half of her life). If this is ignored, then many people will live alone from middle-age. In trailblazing feminist Sweden 52% of households now consist of only one person:
Why, then, does Sweden stand out when it comes to the high number of single households? Trägårdh says that Sweden is a "radically individualistic" country with a social structure that enables people to live independently - that is, to avoid having to rely on one another.

"It has something to do both with values and with the types of institutions we have created in Sweden in more recent decades," explains Trägårdh.

"Individual autonomy has been important for a long time here, as well as the idea that relationships - even in family and love - should be voluntary. And our institutions guarantee the possibility for relationships to be voluntary, for individuals to make the decision to leave a relationship if they so wish."

The emphasis in Sweden is on the liberal aim of maximising individual autonomy by making it easy to dissolve marriages and to live independently of anyone else - but they have succeeded so well in this aim that a majority of households now have just one person (in comparison the percentage of single person households in nearby Poland is 24%, in Singapore it is 11% and in India 3.7%.)

The next part of Heidi Stone's advice is equally good. She asks women to think about the mistakes that wives sometimes make that bring down their own houses:
This is to the sisters who bulldoze their own security and future. Shingle by shingle. Tear by manipulating tear. Guilt trips by angry blaming.

Every day, systematically destroying their homes, one snark, one bitterness, one resentment at a time the foundation crumbles until there is nothing left to preserve. Nothing left to fight for or hold on to.

I don’t have to make a list, we are familiar with the usual suspects. Anger, resentment, bitterness, defensiveness, and arrogance. No one needs to be convinced those elements are at the heart of poor choices. Toxic to our warmth and hospitality.

But we justify. We excuse our failures. When we are at church thinly masking our dishonor of our spouse with a carefully worded prayer request or trying to explain our behavior to our friends… Maybe we spend too much time searching for a friendly ear when we believe we’ve been horribly “wronged”.

But there really is no limit to the depths of ugliness in the human heart. Have you thought about how disrespect and comparison, victimhood, and slander can pull down your house?

Men are brought up to think that failure or success depends on their own efforts, their character, their strength. But the fate of some marriages is decided not by the actions of the husband, but within the mind and soul of the wife. The marriage rests on her ability to manage her thoughts and emotions, so that she does not dwell on the negatives, or hold on to grievances, or seek to belittle, or slide between a sensitivity to being patronised and a feeling of superiority.

Is it not one task of a human culture to help women to inhabit the better part of themselves ("our warmth and hospitality") rather than the more destructive parts? Is it not important for men to take an interest in this, given that men seek emotional and physical intimacy with their wives but are unlikely to genuinely achieve this if women cannot overcome the kind of failures that Heidi Stone describes?