Thursday, July 20, 2017

Male dominion, magical women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reply to a libertarian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Libertarianism is not traditionalism 2

I published a post a few days ago on the Cato Institute, a leading libertarian organisation. I was therefore interested to find this in my Twitter feed:

Libertarians, like other right-liberals, look to the free market to regulate society. They believe that this is the engine of human progress. Hence the following quote:
"Capitalism reduces the oppression of traditional societies that impose hierarchies of gender and caste,” writes Cudd, because embedded within market exchange itself is the idea that each individual should be free to pursue her self-interest.

So there you go. The Cato Institute approves a model of society in which there are simply individuals in pursuit of their own self-interest (in particular their economic self-interest).

To a traditionalist this is a model of society that is not only ultimately unworkable, but that also has too limited a view of individual life. Are we really just atomised individuals in pursuit of our own individual profit? Is that what defines us as humans? Are men and women simply interchangeable units within a system of production and consumption?

Capitalism, as an economic system, should not define what humans are. Nor should it define our concept of society. Nor our understanding of the roles of men and women in society.

Does anyone really believe that if we tell young men and women that the highest good is to pursue their own individual self-interest that we will arrive at successful relationships between men and women? Stable families? High levels of trust between the sexes? A commitment to raise children successfully?

Capitalism alone cannot create a good society. It's necessary to keep to those traditional values and institutions that cohere or successfully order a society and which express deeper truths about man, community, belonging and identity.

The one good thing to draw from the Cato tweet is that it reminds us of what to look out for. Perhaps it is, in fact, true that a market system encourages the idea "that each individual should be free to pursue his or her self-interest." This idea goes back a long way in Western political theory - it brings to mind the view of man and society of John Locke in the late 1600s. It is likely that men made wealthy in the market will be attracted to the idea and give patronage to those holding it. But wherever and whenever it arises it needs to be vigorously opposed.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Canadian baby must choose its own sex?

The essence [of liberalism] is that individuals are self-creating...
Professor Alan Ryan

Let's say that you believe that the highest good is for individuals to be self-creating. What would this logically lead to?

Well, it might lead you to think that people should get to choose their own sex. Hence this story about a Canadian parent who believes that their baby should not be assigned a biological sex because this would limit them:
A baby has been issued an ‘unknown’ gender identity health card in British Columbia, Canada, after the child’s parent fought to raise the infant with a neutral gender.

“I do not gender my child,” Doty said in a statement. “It is up to Searyl to decide how they identify, when they are old enough to develop their own gender identity.

“I am not going to foreclose their choices based on an arbitrary assignment of gender at birth."

Doty said that they are 'raising Searyl in such a way that until they have the sense of self and command of vocabulary to tell me who they are'.

'I'm recognizing them as a baby and trying to give them all the love and support to be the most whole person that they can be outside of the restrictions that come with the boy box and the girl box,' Doty told the news site.

Note how something predetermined, like being a boy or girl, is portrayed negatively as a restriction, as something that boxes in the individual.

As outlandish as the Canadian baby case sounds now, it fits the state ideology and so is likely to become more accepted over time, unless that ideology is effectively challenged. As mentioned above, the Canadians state has already seen fit to issue the baby with a health card that lists its sex as unknown:

Cato libertarians take a step to the left

The Cato Institute is a leading libertarian organisation in the U.S. The Institute recently published a significant article about race. It's fascinating to read because it shows the logic of how left-liberalism developed out of classical/right-liberalism.

But I need to quickly set the scene for this. All forms of liberalism begin with the idea that what matters is a freedom of the individual to be autonomous: to have the liberty to choose to be or to do whatever, as long as it does not limit a similar liberty for others to choose to be or to do whatever.

But this raises the question of how a society of atomised, autonomous individuals each seeking their own subjective good can be successfully regulated. Although there is no single answer given by liberals, the dominant form of liberalism in the mid-1800s, classical liberalism, emphasised the idea that the market could best regulate society. Millions of individuals could participate in the free market, each seeking their own profit, but the hidden hand of the market would ensure that the larger outcome was a positive one for society.

So what went wrong? The classical liberals would say that as long as everyone had an equal opportunity to participate in the market, then everyone had an equal human dignity as an autonomous individual.

But in the later 1800s this was queried. If I am poor and uneducated do I really have the same opportunity in the market as someone who is born to private schools and so on? The new liberals thought that there needed to be a greater role for government intervention to overcome institutional disadvantage.

And so the modern left emerged. For decades there has been a right-liberal party which emphasises markets (Republicans, Tories etc.) and a left-liberal one which emphasises government programs to overcome inequality (Democrats, Labour etc.). Libertarians have mostly been purist right-liberal types, pushing for limited government, markets, and liberty understood as individual autonomy.

So it is no surprise that the Cato Institute piece on race begins as follows:
Libertarians tend to think of freedom as either a means to an end of maximum utility—e.g., free markets produce the most wealth—or, in a more philosophical sense, in opposition to arbitrary authority—e.g., “Who are you to tell me what to do?” Both views fuel good arguments for less government and more personal autonomy.

That's exactly what you would expect from someone on the liberal right. Autonomy, free markets, limited government, freedom. But look at what happens next:
Yet neither separately, nor both taken together, address the impediments to freedom that have plagued the United States since its founding. Many of the oppressions America has foisted upon its citizens, particularly its black citizens, indeed came from government actors and agents. But a large number of offenses, from petty indignities to incidents of unspeakable violence, have been perpetrated by private individuals, or by government with full approval of its white citizens.

You can tell what this is leading up to. It's leading up to the left-liberal idea that there are institutional, systemic barriers to equal participation. That disparities in outcomes are to be explained in terms of institutional oppression, racism and systemic discrimination. And that's exactly where the Cato writer goes:
Take, for example, the common libertarian/conservative trope: “We believe in equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.” Most people, outside of the few and most ardent socialists, should believe that is a fair statement. But to say such a thing as a general defense of the status quo assumes that the current American system offers roughly equal opportunity just because Jim Crow is dead. Yet, that cannot possibly be true.

Think of the phrase “Don’t go there, it’s a bad neighborhood.” Now, sometimes that neighborhood is just a little run down, doesn’t have the best houses, doesn’t have the best shopping nearby, or feeds a mediocre school. But, more often, that neighborhood is very poor, lacks decent public infrastructure, suffers from high unemployment, has the worst schools, and is prone to gang or other violence. And, in many cities—in both North and South—that neighborhood is almost entirely populated by minorities.

There are only two conclusions possible when facing the very real prospect that thousands or millions of Americans live in areas you warn your friends not to go, even by accident: Either everyone in those areas is a criminal, or is content to live among and be victimized by criminals; or there is some number of people, and probably a large one, trapped in living conditions that cannot help but greatly inhibit their opportunities for success and advancement.

He goes on at length about racism and white supremacy and how the Federal Government has helped to overcome this more than markets have. He stops a short of endorsing big government solutions, but you can see how the logic of his argument prepares the ground for this.

The mainstream left and right are not so different from each other. They both exist within the same philosophical framework, sharing the same assumptions about what human life is for. Mainstream leftism is an attempt to perfect the liberalism that came before it, to realize it in a more equitable and consistent way.

The challenge for those who dislike what the modern West has become is to step outside of the liberal framework entirely - to be neither of the left nor of the classical liberal/libertarian right.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Liberalism, secular religion, vulnerability

There is a terrific review of a new book on liberalism over at First Things. The book is by a Polish philosopher named Ryszard Legutko, who was a dissident under the communist government and who believes that communism and liberalism share a similar secular religious framework.

The review, by Adrian Vermeule, is difficult to improve on, so I will limit myself to some commentary on one of the key points raised and then encourage you to go and read the whole thing yourselves.

What I found most interesting was the discussion of some contradictions within liberalism. For instance, liberalism emphasises both a materialist determinism (i.e. everything we do is predetermined by forces of history, genetics etc.) and a belief in the radically autonomous individual, including the idea that individuals, absent certain social conditions, will use this autonomous freedom to choose the good. How can you have a radically self-determining individual if you believe that everything is materially predetermined? One part of liberal philosophy insists that the individual is radically predetermined, the other that he only has dignity if he is radically self-determined.

The most interesting contradiction discussed, and one that is complained about all the time in alt-right discussions on social media, is why liberals seem uninterested in seriously illiberal policies in places like Saudi Arabia but come down heavily on mildly illiberal policies in places like Hungary. I think the answer given by Legutko, as summarised by Vermeule, is very interesting:
Why do Western liberal academics and EU technocrats object so stridently to the mild illiberalism of the Fidesz parliamentary party in Hungary, while saying little or nothing about Saudi Arabia and other monarchical or authoritarian nations, nominal allies of the West, who routinely control, punish, and dominate women, gays, and religious dissenters? Why are the EU technocrats, whose forte is supposed to be competence, so very bumbling, making policy mistake after policy mistake? How is it possible that while the sitting president of the United States squarely opposed same-sex marriage just a few years ago, the liberal intellectuals who supported him passionately also condemn any opposition to same-sex marriage as bigotry, rooted in cultural backwardness? Why was the triumph of same-sex marriage followed so rapidly by the opening of a new regulatory and juridical frontier, the recognition of transgender identity?

Legutko helps us understand these oddities. We have to start by understanding that liberalism has a sacramental character. “The liberal-democratic mind, just as the mind of any true communist, feels an inner compulsion to manifest its pious loyalty to the doctrine. Public life is full of mandatory rituals in which every politician, artist, writer, celebrity, teacher or any public figure is willing to participate, all to prove that their liberal-democratic creed springs spontaneously from the depths of their hearts.” The basic liturgy of liberalism is the Festival of Reason, which in 1793 placed a Goddess of Reason (who may or may not have been a prostitute conscripted for the occasion, in one of the mocking double entendres of Providence) on the holy altar in the Church of Our Lady in Paris. The more the Enlightenment rejects the sacramental, the more compulsively it re-enacts its founding Festival, the dawning of rationality.

Light is defined by contrast, however, so the Festival requires that the children of light spy out and crush the forces of darkness, who appear in ever-changing guises, before the celebration can be renewed. The essential components of the Festival are twofold: the irreversibility of Progress and the victory over the Enemy, the forces of reaction. Taken in combination, these commitments give liberalism its restless and aggressive dynamism, and help to make sense of the anomalies. Fidesz in Hungary is more threatening than the Saudi monarchy, even though the latter is far less liberal, because Fidesz represents a retrogression—a deliberate rejection of liberalism by a nation that was previously a member in good standing of the liberal order. The Hungarians, and for that matter the Poles, are apostates, unlike the benighted Saudis, who are simple heretics. What is absolutely essential is that the clock of Progress should never be turned back. The problem is not just that it might become a precedent and encourage reactionaries on other fronts. The deeper issue is that it would deny the fundamental eschatology of liberalism, in which the movement of History may only go in one direction. It follows that Brexit must be delayed or defeated at all costs, through litigation or the action of an unelected House of Lords if necessary, and that the Trump administration must be cast as a temporary anomaly, brought to power by voters whose minds were clouded by racism and economic pain. (It is therefore impossible to acknowledge that such voters might have legitimate cultural grievances or even philosophical objections to liberalism.)

The puzzle of the EU technocrats, on this account, is no puzzle at all. They are so error-prone, even from a technocratic point of view, at least in part because they are actually engaged in a non-technocratic enterprise that is pervasively ideological, in the same way that Soviet science was ideological. Their prime directive is to protect and expand the domain of liberalism, whether or not that makes for technical efficiency.

Liberalism needs an enemy to maintain its sacramental dynamism. It can never rest in calm waters, basking in the day of victory; it is essential that at any given moment there should be a new battle to be fought. The good liberal should always be able to say, “We have made progress, but there is still much to do.” This is why the triumph of same-sex marriage actually happened too suddenly and too completely. Something else was needed to animate liberalism, and transgenderism has quickly filled the gap, defining new forces of reaction and thus enabling new iterations and celebrations of the Festival. And if endorsement and approval of self-described “gender identity” becomes a widely shared legal and social norm, a new frontier will be opened, and some new issue will move to the top of the public agenda, something that now seems utterly outlandish and is guaranteed to provoke fresh opposition from the cruel forces of reaction—polygamy, perhaps, or mandatory vegetarianism.

If this is true, then it gives liberalism both a strength and a weakness. The strength is that people hold to liberal beliefs like a religion, and therefore as a source of meaning that is difficult to step away from. The weakness is that the force of the religious belief depends on an "eschatology" in which there is always a progress toward an ever more radical application of liberalism in society. Therefore, once liberalism is forced back it is vulnerable to collapse. In other words, if liberalism is seen to be obviously stopped, and some aspect of traditionalism restored, it is likely to trigger a psychological demoralisation amongst liberalism's adherents.

Liberalism needs opposition, it needs a force of reaction to battle against, but it needs to always win.

So we must not be content with being "house traditionalists" who exist merely to play a role within "the liturgy of liberalism." We need to be serious about building to the point that we are obviously regaining ground. At that point, liberals become vulnerable to psychological confusion and demoralisation. There may not be great depths of resistance once they lose a sense of inevitable progress.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Role reversal gone wrong

Beth Mathison is a Tasmanian businesswoman and the new face of a domestic violence campaign here in Australia. She is being presented as a victim of "financial abuse" by her former partner:
But for 20 years, she was financially trapped, controlled by her abusive partner. It was this relationship which ultimately led to her losing everything.

But what are the details of her case? She admits that she grew up "in a bubble of private schooling and scholarships." So no financial abuse there. She then quickly became successful in business:
I lived in a very beautiful castle, where I had staff working seven days a week looking after my personal needs while I also ran a game park business. I worked intensely seven days a week, had everything I wanted.

Her Scottish castle

She lost the castle when interest rates rose and her business collapsed. Looking back she believes she was a victim of abuse by her partner of the time:
"My motivators were my natural entrepreneurial spirit and a driving desire to take on new challenges, and it was these motivators that Bob used to great effect to control me," she explained.

"They always resulted in me being the only one who worked, often seven days a week.

Bob, it seems, did not go out to work and so did not contribute to the finances. According to new guidelines on domestic violence, this makes him an abusive partner.
The guide lays out what constitutes financial abuse -- a wide spectrum which includes refusing to help with household expenses

(In the guide to "financial abuse" one of the indicators of abuse is "refuses to contribute financially to their partner".)

Further blame is heaped on Bob because after Beth divorced him she had to pay him spousal maintenance:
It took Beth five years to find a better job and divorce her ex-husband, which also cost her $150 a week in spousal maintenance because he refused to work.

I hope readers know where I am going with this. If you are a man you will be scratching your head because usually it is men who are in Beth Mathison's position. Usually it is a wealthy husband who buys the grand home, has a so-called trophy wife who doesn't go out to work and who therefore doesn't contribute to the finances, and it is usually the husband who, on divorce, has to pay the wife large sums in alimony and child support.

What Beth Mathison discovered is that the masculine role in life is not as privileged as she might have imagined it to be. A man can go out to work, earn the money and yet look back on a marriage or relationship feeling that he was the one who was exploited.

The response to Beth Mathison's situation is confusing. How can "not contributing to the finances" be defined as domestic violence? This would put the traditional family outside the law. And why is there only sympathy when a woman like Beth Mathison is put in the same position as tens of thousands of men?

In other words, if we are supposed to sympathise with Beth Mathison, shouldn't we then sympathise with what the majority of men go through when they are divorced by their wives?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sliding down already?

Five years ago I wrote a post on the homosexual marriage issue in which I tried to explain that it is only within heterosexual relationships that limiting marriage to two people makes sense. That's because a man and a woman can be thought of as two distinct fitting or interlocking parts that combine to form a fruitful (a fertile) union. But once you think that you can have a marriage between two men or two women then there seems to be little reason to believe that you can't have a marriage between three men or three women.

The warning here is that if a society embraces homosexual marriage, then it is on a slippery slope to marriage between more than two people.

It's not easy to predict how long such effects might take. But already we have news from Colombia that a marriage between three men has been given legal recognition:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Wall Street Journal on the European elites

A quick, interesting item. The Wall Street Journal has published a post by Douglas Murray titled "Europe’s Elites Seem Determined to Commit Suicide by ‘Diversity’".

It's hidden behind a paywall (see here if interested) but the key part comes toward the end. Douglas Murray believes that the European elites have a sense of guilt and that they think of their own tradition as being tired and played out. He goes on to write:
All these instincts, when put together, are the stuff of suicide. They spell out the self-annihilation of a culture as well as a continent. Conversations with European policy makers and politicians have made this abundantly clear to me. They tell me with fury that it “must” work. I suggest that with population change of this kind, at this speed, it may not work at all.

...Over recent decades Europe has made a hasty effort to redefine itself. As the world came in, we became wedded to “diversity.” As terrorism grew and more migrants arrived, public opinion in Europe began to harden. Today “more diversity” remains the cry of the elites, who insist that if the public doesn’t like it yet, it is because they haven’t had enough of it.

The migration policies of the political and other elites of Europe suggest that they are suicidal. The interesting thing to watch in the years ahead will be whether the public join them in that pact. I wouldn’t bet on it.

I don't think he is entirely right in identifying why the elite acts as it does, but the good thing is that an establishment newspaper has been willing to directly state the problem, namely that the European elites are determined to commit cultural suicide and that it is up to the public to resist them.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Albert Goodwin

Always good to discover a new artist. Albert Goodwin (1845-1932) was an English landscape painter. Below is his painting Sunset, Venice (1902).

Or, you might prefer Westminster Sunset.

The next fortnight

My apologies, but due to a heavy workload I've had to turn off comments for the next fortnight; posting will continue but will be lighter than usual. This is definitely a temporary measure - I look forward to resuming both comments and longer posts in two weeks time.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Germany march

850 German patriots marched in Berlin today. The march was organised by the Identitarian movement. The banner's main slogan reads "Future for Europe" and underneath it says "Identity. Love of homeland. Patriotism." The march was five times larger than a similar one held last year.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

To love and to serve

Liberals sometimes express their ideal as being the individual pursuit of happiness. But such a pursuit is likely to leave many people feeling uncommitted in life, as if they were merely treading water rather than plunging in. Perhaps that's because humans have a powerful impulse to love and to serve, so much so that this is felt to be one necessary part of a truly committed and meaningful life.

I don't think we can ignore this impulse to love and to serve, as it is an aspect of life that needs to be carefully ordered. It very easily goes wrong.

With men, the easiest focus of this impulse is to love and to serve a wife. The service here is not to something intangible, but to a person who is real and immediate, and who draws love not only by her own individual feminine attractiveness, but by a man associating her with a perceived feminine essence of beauty and goodness. A man feels elevated in his own feelings when making this kind of commitment, particularly as in doing so he draws on, and exercises, his own stronger masculine qualities.

So how does this go wrong? You get a hint of the problem from what went wrong in the Middle Ages. The literary tradition of courtly love was about men becoming lovesick for a noblewoman and pledging their service to them as a way of winning the lady's love. The men were expected to grovel and abase themselves as part of the process. The outcome depended on the whim of the lady - she held the upper hand throughout.

A commitment to serve can be thought to give power to the person being served. In modern marriage, this can mean that a man's willingness to commit to marriage and to work to provide for his wife and children can be perceived by the woman to make him "beta" - and therefore sexually unattractive, making for a less than happy outcome for both husband and wife.

The solution? One part of the solution, in my opinion, is for men to have other outlets for the "love and service" impulse and not to rest everything on the marital relationship. A man can love and serve God, his nation/people/country, and his local place/community. Saint Thomas Aquinas thought that the focus on the larger communal life, in being oriented to the common good, was the highest natural fulfilment of men:
Whereas the residents of the village better serve their individual interests, the goal of the political community becomes the good of the whole, or the common good, which Aquinas claims (following Aristotle) is "better and more divine than the good of the individual." (Commentary on the Politics, Book 1, Lesson 1 [11]). The political community is thus understood as the first community (larger than the family) for which the individual makes great sacrifices, since it is not merely a larger cooperative venture for mutual economic benefit. It is, rather, the social setting in which man truly finds his highest natural fulfilment. In this sense, the political community, even though not directed to the individual good, better serves the individual by promoting a life of virtue in which human existence can be greatly ennobled.

The further advantage to a man of dedicating part of his life to the larger community he belongs to, is that it practically repudiates the impression that he is merely a servant to his wife.

However, for this to work, it needs to be built into the social arrangements. Despite not finding "servant men" sexually attractive, women still tend to jealously guard their monopoly over men's time and resources. It's difficult to ask a solitary man to break through this alone; better if it is normal within a society for men to spend part of the week doing church activities, or contributing to some sort of cultural or political organisation.

And what of marriage itself? It's common for men to think that women will appreciate the sacrifices they make by going out to work to provide money for their wives and children. But women are strangely unaffected by this. In a woman's mind, this is just something that men do. Maybe this is women not wanting to think that their husbands are doing "servant" work as this would make the husband unattractive. Or maybe it reflects the long human prehistory when men went out to hunt, leaving women's minds focused on their relationships with other women and with children.

Sacrificing as a breadwinner does not rebalance the marital relationship. It might be thought that the solution then is for women to also love and serve their husbands. It's true that this would help. It also seems to be true that Western culture used to encourage women to do this: think of the advice to wives to cook something nice for their husbands, or to give him a warm and welcome environment for him to return to after work.

On the other hand, women are more likely to be focused on a "love and serve" relationship with their children rather than their husband. It's noticeable that a husband's love for his wife is likely to be constant, as you would expect when someone makes a commitment to love and to serve. Similarly, a mother's love for her children is also usually constant. But a wife's love for her husband is likely to be inconstant - a woman might even say things to her husband such as "I don't even like you right now".

What would help most is if the roles of husband and father had more power, authority and prestige associated with them. Then a man could love and serve his wife and children without the negative implication that he was thereby submitting to his wife, rather than leading in a masculine way.

But this cannot be a pretend role, a role that we pay lip service to, whilst the same old dynamic continues on as before. A husband has to be trusted to exercise real authority within his family and he should not be undermined by family laws which make it extraordinarily easy for his wife to strip him of children, home and income.

We could decisively reject some of the egalitarian ethos. My own father used to sit at the head of the table; be served first; and read family prayers. The point of this is not power for its own sake, but to embed the dignity of the office itself - which is necessary for a system of marriage to work. It is a pushing back against the strong forces eroding a man's position in the family, including a wife's perception that her husband is there to serve her and is therefore lowlier than her, and that she is in the position to easily control him, which kills her respect and passion for him.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Credit to Bolt

Andrew Bolt is the most prominent right-wing journalist here in Australia. He has a large audience, writing for the Herald Sun newspaper and hosting a pay TV commentary show.

He is not a traditionalist but a kind of right-liberal. This is most obvious in his attitude to communal identity. He has written that he considers himself Australian but only reluctantly:
Yet even now I fret about how even nationality can divide us.

To be frank, I consider myself first of all an individual, and wish we could all deal with each other like that. No ethnicity. No nationality. No race. Certainly no divide that's a mere accident of birth.

Liberals want us to be self-determined, therefore something that is predetermined like our ethnicity becomes something negative for the individual to be liberated from. That's why Andrew Bolt once declared his support for:
The humanist idea that we are all individuals, free to make our own identities as equal members of the human race.

And he is intellectual enough to take this liberal principle to its logical conclusion, namely that we should only identify with our own self. He writes about how he once tried to identify with his Dutch ancestry but rejected this because:
I was borrowing a group identity rather than asserting my own. Andrew Bolt's.

You would think, given this dramatic adherence to liberal principles, that Andrew Bolt would not be of great interest for traditionalists in Australia. Yet because he has a courageous personality he raises issues that many others will not. Last week he wrote one of the best newspaper columns I have ever read in the Australian mainstream media. The first part dealt with a physical attack on him launched by two members of the Melbourne antifa. You can see footage of the attack in the video below:

Bolt defended himself remarkably well and he wasn't backing down when he wrote about the incident in his column:
TO ALL those who called me with sympathy for being attacked on Tuesday by masked protesters: stop it.

Sympathy is for losers. And we must be losers no more.

So I want your high-fives instead. I want you to laugh at the CCTV footage of the haymaker I gave one of the three men who jumped me and blinded me with a thick liquid outside a Carlton book launch I was to speak at.

Their sort has ruled the streets for too long, particularly in Melbourne.

The main part of his column was a strong argument to close the borders to avoid the terror threat. It's worth reading in full, but here are some highlights:
But did Khayre’s rampage finally shock our politicians into admitting the truth?

Did they finally concede they’d run a refugee program that put Australians in danger?

As if. Here is the response of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: “There are some very, very grave questions … How was this man on parole?”

Wrong. The gravest question of all is actually this: why was this jihadist in Australia in the first place?

Why did our politicians let in Khayre and hundreds, even thousands, of people much like him?

Stop blaming the judges and the police and everyone except the damn politicians who have opened our gates to exactly the mayhem they now pretend to tackle. Our politicians have been wilfully, dangerously, recklessly blind to the danger they’ve imported in their narcissistic urge to seem kind, no matter what the cost to the rest of us.

...So why are we running a refugee program that again and again puts Australians in danger? That brings in terror?

Wouldn’t it be both safer and cheaper to help refugees where they are right now — overseas — rather than pay millions to bring over a lucky few and cross our fingers they’ll fit in?

Monday, June 12, 2017

The man who invented Wonder Woman

I haven't seen the film, nor did I ever read the comic books, but I'm aware that the character of Wonder Woman is supposed to be a feminist icon.

And that's not so surprising given her origins.

It turns out that the creator of Wonder Woman was one William Moulton Marston. He was a product of that long first wave of feminism that ran from about the 1860s to the 1940s.

Marston lived together with not just one but two feminist wives:
Olive Byrne met Marston in 1925, when she was a senior at Tufts; he was her psychology professor. Marston was already married, to a lawyer named Elizabeth Holloway. When Marston and Byrne fell in love, he gave Holloway a choice: either Byrne could live with them, or he would leave her. Byrne moved in. Between 1928 and 1933, each woman bore two children; they lived together as a family. Holloway went to work; Byrne stayed home and raised the children. They told census-takers and anyone else who asked that Byrne was Marston’s widowed sister-in-law. “Tolerant people are the happiest,” Marston wrote in a magazine essay in 1939, so “why not get rid of costly prejudices that hold you back?” He listed the “Six Most Common Types of Prejudice.” Eliminating prejudice number six—“Prejudice against unconventional people and non-conformists”—meant the most to him. Byrne’s sons didn’t find out that Marston was their father until 1963..

The character of Wonder Woman was intended from the start (the early 1940s) to celebrate the power of the New Woman:
In February 1941, Marston submitted a draft of his first script, explaining the “under-meaning” of Wonder Woman’s Amazonian origins in ancient Greece, where men had kept women in chains, until they broke free and escaped. “The NEW WOMEN thus freed and strengthened by supporting themselves (on Paradise Island) developed enormous physical and mental power.” His comic, he said, was meant to chronicle “a great movement now under way—the growth in the power of women.”

More simply, Marston gave this reason for the creation of Wonder Woman:
Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.

There was some push back in the 1950s. There were complaints that female comic book characters, like Wonder Woman, had been stripped of any positive family role:
They do not work. They are not homemakers. They do not bring up a family. Mother-love is entirely absent. Even when Wonder Woman adopts a girl there are Lesbian overtones

As a result the comic book industry adopted a code of conduct which included the following:
The treatment of love-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.

That might sound over the top, but when you read the back story of men like Marston, you understand why even in the 1950s the older values needed to be explicitly defended.