Monday, January 15, 2018

More intellectual inroads

I saw this Tweet and thought it very good:

This is, in my opinion, a key insight. For decades, those who disliked the liberal trends within society voted for the right-wing "conservative" parties hoping that this would change things. It was a grave mistake, as the political philosophy of these parties is generally a right-liberal one. So the protest vote achieved very little - it just kept power safely within the realm of liberal politics.

Back in the 1990s it was common to hear the term "left-liberal" to describe those on the left, whilst those on the right were usually called conservatives (at least here in Australia). I began to call these so-called conservatives "right-liberals" to try to make clear how limited the political choice really was. The late Lawrence Auster was kind enough to credit me with introducing the term:
For years I have argued that neoconservatism is a variant of liberalism, specifically of right-liberalism, the belief in the equal rights and the fundamental sameness of all human individuals, based on a single universal truth embodied in a democratic world order led by America. This right-liberalism—a term first developed by Australian blogger Mark Richardson—is distinguished from left-liberalism, the belief in individual expressive and sexual freedom and substantive group equality embodied in a transnational world order led by the UN and other transnational bodies.

I think we are at the point now where the argument I was trying to make will become more widely accepted. Patrick Deneen, in his recently released book Why Liberalism Failed, makes the point forcefully and eloquently, though he uses the terms classical liberal and progressive liberal rather than right and left liberal.

The text quoted in the Tweet is from a review of Deneen's book written by Gene Callahan. He writes,
American conservatives may be cheered by the appearance of a book entitled “Why Liberalism Failed.” But, in the sense in which Deneen is using “liberalism,” most American conservatives are actually liberals. Deneen’s use is in fact the one common among political theorists, many of whom argue that America does not have a conservative and a liberal party. Rather, it has a right-liberal party, focused on free markets and free trade, and a left-liberal party, focused on social issues.

...The two liberal parties in America compete by pointing to two seemingly opposed but factually reinforcing trends. The right-liberal Republicans warn against the dominance of society by the state, while the left-liberal Democrats point to the tyranny of the market as the greatest threat to human freedom. Thus each party inspires its partisan members by fear of the threat the other party represents. But despite appearances, both parties, in fact, jointly work to expand both the state and the market.

The left is becoming a hostile place for Westerners; white men in particular have been flocking instead to the right. There is not much point, though, flocking to a right-wing politics that keeps the larger social settings in place that are dissolving Western society. To change these settings means breaking with liberalism itself. That's the change that is necessary to make a real difference and to begin to steer a different and more viable course for our society.

More science of sex differences

This will come as no surprise to readers of this site, but recent scientific research has again confirmed differences in the brain structure of males and females. What is particularly interesting about the recent findings is that the test subjects were newborn infants. So from the very start of life, before any effect of culture, boys and girls are different in the way their brains are wired.

From the abstract:
Using high-resolution structural MRI, we measured subcortical gray and white matter brain volumes in a cohort (N = 143) of 1-month infants and examined characteristics of these volumetric measures throughout this early period of neurodevelopment. We show that brain volumes undergo age-related changes during the first month of life, with the corresponding patterns of regional asymmetry and sexual dimorphism. Specifically, males have larger total brain volume and volumes differ by sex in regionally specific brain regions, after correcting for total brain volume. Consistent with findings from studies of later childhood and adolescence, subcortical regions appear more rightward asymmetric. Neither sex differences nor regional asymmetries changed with gestation-corrected age. Our results complement a growing body of work investigating the earliest neurobiological changes associated with development and suggest that asymmetry and sexual dimorphism are present at birth.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

On white knighting

There is a longstanding theme within Western culture of men who dream of rescuing the damsel in distress, perhaps with the reward of a relationship for their efforts. It all seems noble and idealistic, but it has come in for criticism within the men's movement, to the point that the term "white knighting" is now a derogatory one. As it should be.

The thing you notice is that white knighting always seems to exist as part of a pair. When men engage in white knighting, women engage in the feminine imperative. And both, especially when existing together, are a sickly version of what the genuine relationship should look like.

The feminine imperative is the idea that men should sacrifice for, and be servants to, women. Or, to put it another way, that men exist to serve a woman's goals and objects (and that a woman therefore has no reason to be grateful for what a man, or men, might do for her). Here is an example of the Christian version of the feminine imperative:

She believes that even as the "head" of a family men are only there to sacrifice and serve, whilst the woman leads.

There is some basis for white knighting and the feminine imperative in our biological drives. Men do, after all, have an instinct to protect women and it also makes sense that young women, as the bearers of children, might be thought especially critical to the future existence of a tribe.

Even so, the white knight/feminine imperative axis is dysfunctional. Women who succeed in turning men into a servant class are making them romantically and sexually unattractive. Women are generally more sexually attracted to dominant men they find difficult to tame or control. Which is why the white knight strategy also fails spectacularly for men - it is not likely to lead a man to the end part of the fantasy, where he wins the woman.

This is what makes white knighting so lame. It is a poor strategy for an individual man, or for the men of a community, to follow in attempting to win the favours of women. It ends up not with women casting admiring glances at their rescuers, but in women feeling ungrateful to men they cannot respect or have a genuine attraction to.

This does not mean that men should not follow through with their protector instincts. But this instinct needs have a higher aim, namely the protection of the larger setting within which relationships can successfully take place. The male protector instinct should be applied to upholding the virtue of women within the culture; to defending the culture of family life; to preserving the position of married men as having status and power and therefore attractiveness; and to creating a protected space within which the feminine qualities of women might be cultivated.

It's not reasonable to expect that a man can do this alone, as an individual. It will only happen if and when numbers of men act together to reset the culture.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

It was the sophists?

I am reading A Short History of Ethics by Alasdair MacIntyre. In chapter 3 MacIntyre explains how the Greek concept of the natural man came about. According to MacIntyre, the sophists were moral relativists. They believed that a man was virtuous if he functioned well as a successful citizen. To do this, he had to conform to the prevailing conventions of what was just and right. But these varied from one city state to another. Therefore, the important thing was to learn to adapt to whatever the prevailing usage was.

So, and this is the important part, what was moral was identified with the conventional. What this meant is that the natural man, hidden inside the conventional man, was identified with the non-moral or pre-moral.

The next part is worth quoting in full:
"The natural man has no moral standards of his own. He is therefore free from all constraints upon him by others. All men are by nature either wolves or sheep; they prey or are preyed upon.

The natural man, conceived thus by the sophist, has a long history in European ethics in front of him. The details of his psychology will vary from writer to writer, but he is almost always - though not always - going to be aggressive and lustful. Morality is then explicable as a necessary compromise between the desire of natural men to aggress upon others and the fear of natural men that others will aggress upon them with fatal consequences. Mutual self-interest leads men to combine in setting up constraining rules to forbid aggression and lust...

A good deal of variation is possible in the way that this intellectual fairy tale is told, but its central themes, like those of all good fairy tales, are remarkably constant. And above all, at the heart of the account there remains the idea that social life is perhaps chronologically and certainly logically secondary to a form of unconstrained nonsocial human life..."

The problem with the view of the natural man that seems to have originated with the sophists is that it reduces the nature of men to a few basic, destructive instincts; that it sees the natural man as an atomised agent seeking his own selfish purposes; and that it severs the connection between the natural man and the collective institutions of society, with these institutions only existing as part of a social contract to constrain the destructive aspects of natural man.

It possibly also led to equally unhelpful counter-positions, in which the natural man living outside of convention was thought to be noble and only corrupted by conventional society, or in which the social institutions were thought to be a contract for the purposes of a few against the many and therefore oppressive, rather than being necessary constraints upon the natural man.

What is missing is a more nuanced few of human nature, one which sees men as having a moral nature, albeit a flawed one, so that men have it within their nature both to embody noble qualities as well as to pursue an aggressive self-interest. Nor does the natural man exist prior to human society - he has always been part of it. Institutions like the family or the tribe were not somehow contracted for but reflect the social nature and the social needs of the natural man. The family does constrain aspects of human nature, but it fulfils others at the same time.

You cannot sum up the nature of man in a line. You could write a whole library of books describing the biological, the intellectual, the moral, the spiritual, the social, the emotional, and the psychological impulses that run through men. Out of all of this, an individual and a culture attempt to come to a sense of what is most excellent, profound, admirable and true within human nature, but in a way that integrates or harmonises the different aspects of who we are as men (you cannot, for instance, ignore the biological drives of men in attempting to come to an integrated ideal of manhood.)

In short, it is wrong to see the natural man as being pre-moral and pre-social, and morality as being wholly conventional. I'll be interested to see how MacIntyre describes the unfolding of this sophist view of natural man later in his book.

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.