Saturday, August 22, 2015

history, feelings, guilt and anger

Edmund Burke said that those who don't know history are destined to repeat it. This is certainly true and it is one of the reasons we should history. We should however make sure that we are studying history for the right reasons. An important clue is that Burke referred to those who do not know history, not those who do not feel history. We should study history in order to understand it, not in order to wallow in emotions.

These days people who quote history are much more concerned with feelings than with comprehension. History is all too often an excuse for wallowing in guilt or wallowing in resentment. Both are equally useless.

It is worth trying to understand how the French Revolution occurred and why it turned into a bloodbath. It is not helpful to indulge in an orgy of emotion over the victims of the Terror. We can’t help them now. All we can hope is that we can avoid such horrors in the future. It is worth trying to understand how the Second World War began but we cannot stop the invasion of Poland and we cannot help the millions of people who died as a direct or indirect result. The best we can hope for is to avoid the many errors that led to such horrors. We cannot prevent the Holocaust. We can only hope to avoid future Holocausts. We cannot undo slavery. We can only learn from such tragedies.

In order to learn we have to put feelings to one side. Feelings do not help us to understand. When we study an historical event such as the English Civil War it is no use feeling anger or pity or resentment towards King Charles I over his mishandling of the ship money affair or religious reform. We can however try to understand why a reasonably intelligent, conscientious and well-meaning man misjudged the situation so badly. Whether we think the king was right or wrong, good or bad, is irrelevant. What is relevant is that his policies failed and he was unable to prevent the nation from sliding into civil war. Similarly there is nothing to be gained by making moral judgments on Neville Chamberlain. The man is dead. It is however very relevant indeed to try to understand in a cool-headed rational manner why he failed in his object of preventing war. 

And we need to cast aside popular opinion and prejudice and received wisdom and all the things that “everyone knows” and be prepared to pursue our attempts at understanding wherever they may lead us. Simply to assume that Chamberlain’s failure meant that appeasement was a bad policy is not enough. Policies may fail for various reasons. Sometimes they are applied too aggressively; sometimes they are not taken far enough. Sometimes they are tried too late. Sometimes they are good policies but are pursued unskillfully. Sometimes they fail because the situation was so explosive that no policy could have prevented disaster. Deciding that a failed policy failed because it was wicked or stupid is not enough. Chamberlain may have been right or he may have been wrong. We cannot decide such questions on emotional grounds. If he was right we need to know why he failed. If he was wrong and his policy was doomed to failure we need to do know why it was doomed.

Could the American Civil War have been prevented? This is a question that cannot be resolved by taking a moral stance or relying on feelings. No-one would suggest that slavery was morally right, but could it have been abolished without the loss of possibly 700,000 lives? Surely if there had been another way to achieve the same goal it would have been preferable? If there was no alternative then we at least need to understand why no alternative was possible.

Most of all history should never be an excuse to indulge in useless emotions like guilt or resentment. Even the youngest slave-owners in the American South have been dead for a century. There is little point in getting angry at people who have been dead for a hundred years. It is completely insane to feel anger towards the distant descendants of such people. It is completely insane for the distant descendants of such people to feel guilt for the actions of their ancestors. 

Judging history on the basis of feelings is like judging physics on the basis of feelings. It doesn’t matter whether you feel that quantum mechanics is moral or immoral, all that matters is whether it works and whether we can learn from it. In the long run an emotional view of history will simply result in more unnecessary suffering. The paradox is that the more we indulge our feelings the more likely we are to increase the sum total of human misery.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

the desensitisation strategy

We all know that movies and television are becoming increasingly crass, vulgar, violent and sleazy. This is not a mere accident. Of course it’s obviously part of the general cultural marxist strategy to demoralise our society. But there may be a little more to it than that.

What is happening is a campaign of desensitisation. The object is to desensitise us to explicit violence, horror and sexual material. What we need to ask is - which specific groups would have a keen interest in doing this, and why?

One obvious candidate is the LGBTQWERTY lobby. The biggest obstacle they have always faced is the Yuck Factor. To any normal person homosexuality has always been vaguely disgusting. That’s not to say that normal people don’t feel compassion for homosexuals. They simply feel (undoubtedly correctly) that homosexuals would be better off weaning themselves off their self-destructive and unnatural lifestyle. Anal sex in particular has a very high disgust factor. In order fully to implement their agenda the LGBTQWERTY lobby needs to overcome this perfectly natural revulsion. That’s where desensitisation comes in. 

It’s important to realise that in order for this strategy to succeed it is not necessary to expose people to explicit images of homosexual sex. Of course the ultimate objective is to do just that - to rub the noses of normal people in homosexual sex. To do so at this stage however would be counter-productive. The shorter-term objective is to accustom people to depravity and degradation in general. This means desensitising people to everything that would normally provoke horror and disgust. Once people take disgusting things for granted  it will be easy to persuade them to celebrate sexual abnormality.

There is another group with a less obvious but nonetheless very strong interest in desensitising the public - feminists. Nothing matters more to feminists than “abortion rights” - nothing is more precious than a woman’s right to murder her unborn baby. Abortion also produces feelings of horror and disgust in normal people. The more you think about abortion the more horrifying the idea becomes. But if people can be desensitised to horror, violence and squalor then eventually abortion will seem to be no big deal. If the natural response to  horror and cruelty can be sufficiently dulled then even the harvesting and sale of the body parts of unborn babies (as done by Planned Parenthood in the US) will seem to be no big deal.

This toleration of violence, cruelty and crass graphic sexual content is another example of a crucial battle in the culture war being lost by conservatives because they didn’t even bother to fight the battle. They didn’t think it was important enough. As usual, they didn’t think at all.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Machine Stops

I've posted a review of E. M. Forster's fascinating 1909 science fiction short story, The Machine Stops, at my book blog.

The Machine Stops has been credited (with some justification) as being the first story to predict the internet, and social networking. More importantly it is uncannily and disturbingly accurate in predicting the social consequences of such developments.

It is also an uncannily accurate prediction of so many of the characteristics of early 21st century life that are of concern to those who value tradition and view progress with scepticism.

It was written as a counter to the socialist utopianism of the science fiction of H. G. Wells, of which Forster very strongly disapproved.

It's one of the first great dystopian science fiction tales and an intriguing anticipation of the soft totalitarianism of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Here's the link to my review.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

the forever (culture) war


The culture war has ended in complete victory. The handful of surviving evil white cis-gendered heteronormative patriarchal males are cowering in cellars and are unlikely ever again to threaten the glorious cause of social justice. You might think that this means there will be peace at last, even if it’s the peace of conquest. You couldn’t be more wrong. The culture war will never end. The culture war must never end. In fact it’s about to be intensified.

This time the enemy will not be evil white cis-gendered heteronormative patriarchal males since as I’ve already explained they’re becoming almost impossible to find. The enemies will be far more dangerous. The cultural marxists are now turning their attentions to the Enemy Within.

Anyone familiar with the history of revolutions should not be surprised. The great purges in  the Soviet Union were not directed against czarist agents or capitalists because there weren’t any left. The purges were directed against deviationists - communists who were not sufficiently ideologically pure or who expressed any doubts as to the correctness of the party line. In Communist China the targets were both left and right deviationists and wicked capitalist roaders. The French Revolution ended in a bloodbath of revolutionaries who were unwise enough to belong to the wrong revolutionary faction. 

So given the shortage of evil white cis-gendered heteronormative patriarchal males who will be the victims of The Terror this time?

In the US it’s already clear that black Christians will be a principal target. The very existence of black Christians is a threat to The Narrative. If Christianity is evil and racist how can it be that there are blacks who want to be Christians? Those blacks are traitors - they’re no better than evil white cis-gendered heteronormative patriarchal males. They must be rooted out. They must be purged.

Heterosexual women will also be a prime target. They’re at the very bottom of the victim totem pole, which is something they’re only just starting to realise. The problem for any group being at the bottom of the victim totem pole is that when there are no other wicked oppressors available that group will be pressed into service as the new oppressor class. White middle-class heterosexual university-educated women see themselves as victims but in the eyes of groups with higher victim status they are simply outrageous examples of white privilege. 

If white feminists think that non-white women are their natural allies they need to think again. Non-white women are not interested in sexism - it’s racism that obsesses them. They will ally with non-white men against white feminists. When white middle-class heterosexual university-educated women are purged they will find themselves with no allies at all, and with pitifully few victim points to play. 

Of course the group that will be in the biggest trouble comprises those heterosexual men who convinced themselves that by proclaiming their anti-racist anti-homophobe anti-sexist pro-feminist credentials they would be safe. These self-emasculated male feminists thought they could gain honorary victim points by identifying with victim groups. They will soon discover how wrong they were. Even the tiniest deviation from political correctness will land them in deep trouble. And they will discover what the victims of the French Revolutionary Terror and the Stalinist show trials discovered - that political correctness is not just a minefield but that the mines never stay in the same place for very long. A position that seemed quite safe last week is now wicked and wrong and counter-revolutionary and grounds for being purged.

I have some sympathy for the black Christians who are often very good people. I have zero sympathy for the feminists and less than zero sympathy for the white heterosexual men who have served the cause of political correctness and are now about to find themselves in the firing line. They deserve everything they are about to get.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

our self-destructive elites


Every society is ruled by an elite of some kind. There’s nothing necessarily harmful in that. It seems to be more or less inevitable. There are however some important differences that distinguish the elites that currently rule what passes for western civilisation.

Most elites are fundamentally conservative. Not conservative in the sense of being right-wing but in the sense of being essentially in favour of the status quo. This of course makes perfect sense. If you’re a member of the elite then society is working very well indeed from your point of view. Any change might well make your own position less comfortable or less secure. If you’re a member of the elite then the last thing you want is for social cohesion to be threatened.

Our current western elites are quite different. They set out to destroy their own civilisation. Other elites have been responsible for the collapse of their own societies through stupidity or short-sightedness but this is surely the first time in history an elite has consciously and deliberately set out to destroy its host society. This is very strange. It requires some explanation. I don’t claim to have the definitive answers but I can put forward a few possible explanations.

The first explanation would be that the elites genuinely believe that they will never personally have to pay the price for their follies. This has been to some extent true of all elites. If the French aristocrats of the 18th century had known they were going to be guillotined en masse as a result of the collapse of the ancien regime it is fair to suppose that they would have taken more active steps to prevent that collapse.

The second explanation is more specific to our own case. It is extreme isolation from reality. As Theodore Dalrymple has pointed out, the elites of Britain genuinely have no idea what life is like outside of their own safe protected havens. They have no idea how the underclass lives. They have no idea how the underclass thinks, or of how violent and destructive that underclass really is. They have no clue as to what the drug culture has done to the underclass. They have no notion of what multiculturalism means in practice. They’ve never seen it. None of these problems exist in their cozy little enclaves of wealth and privilege.

This is certainly true in the US as well. Wealthy white liberals tend to live in exclusively wealthy white neighbourhoods, or exclusively wealthy white towns. Many of them live in exclusively wealthy white states. It is undoubtedly true in most western countries. 

There is a third explanation. Those who care most about their own society are those who have a stake in that society’s future. Having a stake in the future means having children. But our elites are, to an astonishing degree, virtually childless. Wealthy middle-class university-educated white people have stopped reproducing. If you are worried about the world in which your children are going to grow up then social experiments are something to be regarded with extreme caution. If you have no children then social experiments aren’t worrying at all.

A fourth explanation is a lack of identification with their own countries. In the past the elites  may have been isolated from the lives of ordinary people but they still identified as belonging to their own countries. The ruling classes in England had a strong sense of Englishness. Even those hapless French aristocrats had a certain sense of Frenchness. In fact even the party elites who ruled the Soviet Union had some sense of national solidarity. It was not a narrow Russian national solidarity but it was at least a sort of pan-slav ethnic solidarity. Our current elites have no such sense of national identity. Any member of the elite who expressed national pride today would be torn to pieces in a Two Minute Hate feeding frenzy.

I don’t claim to provide a full explanation for the self-destructive insanity of our present-day elites, but it is a mystery that requires at least some attempt at understanding.

what's happening in the blogosphere


Some posts from other parts of the blogosphere that might be of interest.

The daughter of science fiction/fantasy icon Marion Zimmer Bradley speaks out about what it’s really like to be raised by homosexual parents, at askthebigot.

Andrew Bolt demonstrates the Left’s tendency to eat its own as the Labor Party turns on Martin Ferguson.

Bruce Charlton asks if the British establishment really has become comprehensively evil.

And Upon Hope raises some pertinent questions about the future of democracy.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

global warming - the King Canute option and the sensible option

James E McConnell, King Canute Defies the Waves.
It seems to me that most of the arguments over “climate change” miss the point. You can argue indefinitely about whether human actions have any influence on climate. Climate is so complicated that it is unlikely that we will ever know.

There are some much more important questions we need to ask. If climate does change is there anything we can do about it? If so, what exactly should we do?

Of course there is one thing we do know. Climate does change. We are living in the Quaternary Ice Age, characterised by a series of glacial periods and interglacial periods. Since there have been eight glacial cycles in the past 740,000 years it’s reasonable to assume there will be more. We also know there are short-term cycles, over a period of centuries, which produce events such as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

We have no idea how far we are into our current interglacial period. It could come to an end in 100 years, 1,000 years or 10,000 years. We do not know if we are heading for the equivalent of another Medieval Warm Period or another Little Ice Age.

We do not know why ice ages occur. There are numerous hypotheses, all of them interesting and all of them unproven.

Given that climate change has occurred and will occur again, what can we do about it? We can try to stop the climate from changing. That would be astronomically expensive and probably about as effective as King Canute’s efforts to prevent the tide from coming in. The only difference is that Canute knew the effort was futile (he was demonstrating the powerlessness of man compared to the power of God). 

There is another option. We can learn to adapt. That would have two advantages - it would be a lot cheaper and it would probably work. If we want to be able to ride out changes in climate we need efficient agriculture, economic prosperity, high technology and plentiful supplies of cheap energy. The Little Ice Age caused a good deal of misery and a number of serious famines. With high technology and cheap abundant energy such misery could easily be avoided. With economic prosperity and enough cheap energy any change in climate would be survivable and would be survivable with minimal suffering.

Unfortunately the misguided attempts by politically motivated environmentalist fools to prevent the tide from coming in will have the effect of wrecking any chances of economic prosperity. And those same attempts will also deprive us of the cheap energy we will need. One thing we can say for an absolute certainty - solar power and wind power are abject failures. We need technologies that actually work, not pipe dreams.

We may have nothing to worry about. The next glacial period might be thousands of years away. Any climate change in the immediate future might be so mild as to be no problem at all. It doesn’t matter. If we concentrate on economic prosperity and cheap energy we’ll still be better off. On the other hand if we waste trillions of dollars on futile attempts to control the climate we could cause economic chaos which would result in untold human misery, and with nothing whatever to show for it.

For a country like Australia there is another point to consider. Nothing that Australia does will have the slightest effect on the climate. Even in the unlikely event that carbon emissions prove to be harmful our contribution is so insignificant as to be meaningless. We could sabotage our economy to placate the green scaremongers and it wouldn’t make the slightest difference anyway. On the other hand a prosperous Australia with plenty of cheap energy could be a beacon of hope. All we need are leaders smart enough to realise that giving in to the demands of warmist alarmists will do a great deal more harm than good. Unfortunately there is no sign of such smart leaders emerging.